Air France-KLM is reported to have discussed entering the race to acquire troubled Alitalia.
Alitalia’s government-appointed commissioners met Air France-KLM executives in Paris last week to discuss the Franco-Dutch airline’s interest in joining the auction, possibly through a joint bid with easyJet, sources told the Financial Times.
The prospective interest in Alitalia by Air France-KLM comes a decade after efforts to purchase the carrier were undermined by political opposition in Italy.
A potential joint offer from Air France-KLM and easyJet would join Lufthansa and private equity group Cerberus Capital Management as the most likely contenders to buy Alitalia.
This month, Air France-KLM denied that it had already made a bid for Alitalia, but it did not rule out any interest in doing so in the future.
Lufthansa has already said its bid was contingent on assurances that Alitalia would implement deep cuts under the commissioners’ leadership.
The Italian airline collapsed into bankruptcy last year after employees rejected a deal on salary and benefits proposed by the company, in which Gulf carrier Etihad had a major investment.
Alitalia and the Italian government had hoped to get the sale finalised by the end of last year, but the offers that came in late 2017 were not considered sufficiently strong.
This prompted the commissioners to engage in a new set of talks with potential buyers, including Air France-KLM, which was granted access to Alitalia’s data after last week’s meeting, but also Delta Air Lines, which acquired a 10% stake in the French airline last year, according to the FT.
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