The German Lufthansa negotiates to buy 40% of the capital of the Italian ITA Airways

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Airplanes of German carrier Lufthansa are parked at Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

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By Michael Nienaber and Giuseppe Fonte

BERLIN/ROME (Reuters) – German airline Lufthansa is in talks to acquire a 40% stake in Alitalia’s successor ITA Airways, two people familiar with the negotiations said on Sunday, following a news report that a deal could be unveiled soon. the week.

Talks on a tie-up between Germany’s partly state-owned Lufthansa and ITA Airways are still ongoing with all possible outcomes, one of the sources said on condition of anonymity, adding that the price of the stake was still being discussed. negotiation.

The second source said Lufthansa and ITA were in talks over a 40% stake sale, but it could take more than a few days to reach an overall agreement.

A Lufthansa spokesperson declined to comment, but reiterated an earlier statement that the German carrier was open to the possibility of a partnership with ITA.

An ITA spokesman, when asked by Reuters about a potential Lufthansa investment, did not mention Lufthansa but said the airline’s management would present a strategic plan to the company’s board on January 31. . A data room would then be opened within days, he added, allowing a potential bidder or partner to access key financial documents to assess the value of the business.

Italian daily Il Foglio reported on Saturday that the two companies could present an agreement on a 40% stake next week, as they were close to agreeing on some key terms, such as the role of the airport of Rome Fiumicino as a hub for direct flights to Africa. and some routes to the Americas.

Sources told Reuters on January 12 that the Italian carrier was in contact with Lufthansa, British Airways and US-based Delta Air Lines (NYSE:) for an equity partnership, adding that formal talks could begin by the end. March.

Delta said Jan. 13 that it has no plans to invest in ITA.

The German government currently owns 14% of Lufthansa shares following a bailout at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and aims to sell its stake by October 2023 at the latest.

The group was saved from bankruptcy by Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium thanks to financial support of 9 billion euros (10.21 billion dollars) approved by the European Commission.

A spokesman for the German economy ministry declined to comment.

A deal with ITA would be subject to approval by the European Union’s competition watchdog.

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