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Alitalia open to offers until 5 June

BUSINESS
Alitalia open to offers until 5 June

Alitalia has kicked off its sale process with the publication of a tender inviting non-binding offers for the bankrupt flagship airline by 5 June.

Bids from single companies or consortia can be made to buy the whole company, restructure it, or acquire assets and contracts, according to the tender document signed by government-appointed commissioners and issued late on Wednesday.

Binding offers for Alitalia are to be received by October, one of the three commissioners, Enrico Lagh, said last week.

The Italian cabinet on 2 May approved the 600 million euro loan to keep Alitalia in business for a maximum period of six months, until a buyer is found or a decision is taken to liquidate the company.

Alitalia is losing around one million euros a day and filed for bankruptcy after its workforce in April roundly rejected a turnaround plan involving job and salary cuts that would have unlocked 2 billion euros of fresh investments for the company.

Rival airlines including Lufthansa and Norwegian Air have shown little interest in buying Alitalia. It is struggling to compete at home against low-cost carriers Ryanair and EasyJet as well as high-speed train links, and has failed to invest sufficiently in more profitable long-haul routes.

Current investors in the airline include Etihad of the United Arab Emirates, which owns 49 percent of Alitalia, and Italy's top two banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit.

Qatar Airways is reportedly one of the few potential buyers for Alitalia.

Investors from outside the European Union cannot own more than 49 percent of a European airline, a limit that hampers an investor's ability to run a carrier and discourages buyers.

The airline was privatised in 2009 and has gone through several restructurings. It has made an annual profit only a few times in its 70-year history and has received over 7 billion euros from the Italian state over the past decade.

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