BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE – AFP
The head of Italy’s state-owned ITA Airways resigned on Monday night, a government source told Agence France-Presse (AFP), hours before a shareholder meeting expected to back his dismissal amid a dispute over efforts to sell the carrier.
Chairperson Alfredo Altavilla had clashed with the company’s board over competing bids for the troubled airline.
He was accused of obstructing an offer by U.S. investment fund Certares, Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM in favor of a proposal by Germany’s Lufthansa and shipping group MSC.
Former Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration announced at the end of August that it had accepted Certares’s bid. But last month, the new government of far-right Giorgia Meloni said the exclusivity period for the negotiations was set to expire, possibly paving the way for the bidding process to resume.
To allow Italy’s new government “to implement its decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible, without being in any way an obstacle or a hindrance, I have taken the decision to resign as president of the company,” Altavilla wrote in a letter to the economy minister.
According to Italian media, the Certares consortium had proposed buying nearly 56% of ITA for around 600 million euros ($599 million).
The Italian state would retain a 44% stake and have two of the five seats on the future ITA board.
Lufthansa and Swiss-Italian shipping group MSC had meanwhile offered 850 million euros for 80% of ITA, which replaced loss-making national carrier Alitalia.
Lufthansa said at the beginning of November that it was “still interested” in taking over ITA, as long as it was a “real privatization of the airline.”
The carrier’s shareholders are scheduled to convene for a general meeting on Tuesday.