As Alitalia Deadline Approaches Another Party Shows Interest

Just as the final deals are starting to fall into place to rescue the failing airline Alitalia, a new possible owner has joined into the bidding war: Toto Holdings.

Alitalia 777 Tail
An Alitalia 777 sits in a hangar undergoing maintenance as the company decides its future. Photo: Alitalia

What are the details?

Alitalia has suddenly found itself to be the prettiest dame at the ball, with multiple companies, airlines and even football club owners vaing to take home a stake of the bankrupt airline.

It began back in April 2017, when the airline was forced to declare bankruptcy after it failed to reduce costs. Saddled with high wages, older inefficient aircraft, and competition from low-cost-carriers and fast trains, Alitalia found that it simply could not survive in its current form.

The airline, which has had significant previous investment from Etihad, would open itself up for offer from various different offers.

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By 2018, they had interest from:

  • Delta Airlines – They wanted to operate routes from USA into Europe using the carrier (much like Qatar is doing with their 49% owned ‘independent’ airline Air Italy).
  • Easyjet
  • Ryanair
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane
  • Football club owner Claudio Lotito

And now, just before the airline can come to a split partnership agreement, a new firm has put their hat into the ring, Toto Holdings.

Alitalia B777
An Alitalia Boeing 777 Photo: Alitalia

Who is Toto Holdings?

Toto Holdings is one of those gigantic companies that seems to just have their hand in everything. They have interests from renewable energy to toll-roads, and are looking to buy up to 30% of the struggling European airline. The fund is headed by Carlo Toto.

The company failed to invest in the airline previously in 2008 and has seen this situation as a solid second attempt. They will be ‘relying on its entrepreneurial experience and adequate economic resources’ to bring the airline back from the brink, and to restore it to a proud flag carrier for the country.

Ex-Avianca CEO also takes interest

There has also been a 2nd party interested in the Alitalia venture, business owner German Efromovich.

“We wrote a letter to Ferrovie dello Stato and the adviser Mediobanca two weeks ago saying we can purchase up to 30% of Alitalia,” said Efromovich to Bloomberg. “We want to join the company’s management and I’d like to be the chief executive officer, at least at the start.”

This deal would cost Efromovich in the region of 240 million Euros ($273m), according to Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

The plot thickens, as it turns out that Efromovich was previously the CEO of another airline only a few months ago… Avianca. Avianca is the one that took out a risky loan and is now in danger of being completely swallowed up by United Airlines.

Avianca 787
Avianca used to be headed by Efromovich. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer/Wikimedia Commons

That misstep serves to discredit Efromovich’s ability to turn airlines around. He originally bought Avianca out of bankruptcy in 2004, and drove it to become the second biggest airline in South America. Perhaps he can deliver the same success to Alitalia.

What do you think? Is this enough to save the struggling company? Let us know in the comments.

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