Alitalia shareholders vote on euro300m plan
MILAN/PARIS: Shareholders of Alitalia voted yesterday on a euro300 million (RM1.29 billion) capital increase to keep the near-bankrupt Italian airline flying, but the participation of top investor Air France-KLM is far from certain.
The loss-making carrier was thrown a lifeline on Friday when its board members — including Air France-KLM — approved a government-led e500-million bailout. The emergency plan includes the capital increase and loans worth euro200 million.
Italian media reports over the weekend said Air France-KLM chief executive Alexandre de Juniac had told Alitalia’s chairman that his group would not participate in a cash call.
But when contacted on Sunday, de Juniac denied having made any statements on the capital increase and called the reports “fanciful”. He declined to make any further comment on his position.
Air France-KLM, which owns a 25 per cent stake, said on Friday it would make a decision on whether to take part in the cash call only after yesterday’s shareholder meeting.
“The decision by the Air France-KLM board members to support the emergency plan does not in any way presuppose our decision on whether to subscribe to the capital increase,” it said.
All shareholders will have 30 days to decide what portion to subscribe.
On Friday, the Franco-Dutch airline said it would set “very
strict” conditions before giving any help.
A source close to the situation said then that it objected to a lack of clarity on Alitalia’s valuation and insisted on much tougher restructuring, believing the emergency plan was not enough.
Any of Air France-KLM’s conditions could clash with Alitalia’s long-haul ambitions, analysts said.
Alitalia’s new chief executive officer Gabriele Del Torchio wants the company to focus on the higher-margin long-haul market after its plans to become a strong regional player came unstuck due to tough competition from low cost players and high-speed trains.
De Juniac has said he could see Alitalia boosting its intercontinental routes where Air France-KLM’s own network might be weak, but his group may want to see some serious restructuring of the Italian company first. Reuters