German Efromovich has previously expressed an interest in buying Alitalia so his latest comments aren't entirely surprising. But will his comments translate into an actual deal?
German Efromovich, the ousted chairman of Colombian airline Avianca, is eyeing a comeback via Italy.
Efromovich wants to buy a stake in the bankrupt Italian flag-carrier Alitalia SpA, financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported, citing a phone interview.
“We wrote a letter to Ferrovie dello Stato and the adviser Mediobanca two weeks ago saying we can purchase up to 30% of Alitalia,” said Efromovich, who was removed as the chairman of Avianca Holdings SA last month after a loan breach. “We want to join the company’s management and I’d like to be the chief executive officer, at least at the start.”
A 30 percent stake in Alitalia would require at least 240 million euros ($273 million), according to the newspaper.
Italian railways operator Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA is leading talks for a possible rescue of Alitalia, which is under special administration. Earlier this month, the Italian government extended the deadline for binding bids to July 15 after potential partners such as EasyJet Plc dropped out of the discussions.
Efromovich, who has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Alitalia’s advisers, said he has the money needed for the investment and wouldn’t have to borrow. The Bolivian businessman still owns 78 percent of Avianca’s voting rights and 52% of the carrier’s capital, Il Sole 24 Ore said.
In May, United Continental Holdings said that it took legal action in Bogota to dismiss Efromovich from Avianca’s board for defaulting on a $456 million loan.
Efromovich purchased Avianca out of bankruptcy in 2004 and turned it around into Latin America’s second-biggest carrier. But last year, he offered his stake in the airline as collateral for a loan from United Continental, imperiling its future.
Alitalia also lured interest from Toto Group, a holding that spans from renewable energies to toll-road concessions that is controlled by Italian entrepreneur Carlo Toto. After a failed attempt in 2008 of investing in Alitalia, Toto Group is now reviewing the option of investing in the carrier “relying on its entrepreneurial experience and adequate economic resources,” a company’s spokesman wrote Sunday in a letter to daily Il Messaggero.
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Photo credit: An Alitalia A321 on the taxiway at Schipol Airport, the Netherlands. The airline is looking for a buyer. Nicky Boogaard / Flickr