Italy’s Alitalia SpA attracted bids from European discounter EasyJet Plc and U.S. giant Delta Airlines Inc., as the government renews attempts to sell the bankrupt flag-carrier.
U.K.-based EasyJet said in a statement Wednesday that it submitted a revised expression of interest in unprofitable Alitalia, while Delta also presented a proposal, according to the Ansa news agency. Italian state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato said it also made an offer.
The bids raise the prospect of Alitalia gaining multiple owners, with EasyJet bringing its expertise to bear on short-haul operations, and Atlanta-based Delta helping to run lucrative long-haul flights out of Milan and Rome. Ferrovie would most likely act as an anchor investor.
State-appointed administrators for the airline confirmed that two binding bids had been received for Alitalia, together with one expression of interest, without saying who they were from. Italian Economic Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Wednesday that “finding an industrial partner is going to be key.”
Alitalia went into liquidation last year when former 49 percent shareholder Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi pulled the plug on funding and workers rejected a 2 billion-euro ($2.3 billion) recapitalization tied to 1,600 job cuts from a workforce of 12,500.
An initial April 30 bid deadline was extended to Oct. 31 this year. The airline has been surviving on a 900 million-euro bridge loan that expires in December, though the facility could be extended while the government continues the search for investors, according to Italian press reports.
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