There are rumours suggesting that Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has bid for 60% of the equity of ITA, the successor of Alitalia, the Italian state-owned airline. Press reports suggest that the combination of Lufthansa and MSC are the leading investment team for ITA, with Lufthansa believed to be intending to offer to purchase 20% of the equity and MSC 60%, whilst the Italian State will retain 20%.
Without stating its sources, the news agency Reuters said that there are two other groups of investors bidding for ITA including a US investment company which is working with AirFrance KLM and Delta Airlines, although Delta has said it will make no financial input into ITA. Indigo Partners, which is another US based investor with exposure to the airline sector is also rumoured to be interested, although none of this is confirmed. The MSC/Lufthansa bid is said to be the favoured team at present. The bidding for investment in ITA was scheduled to close on Monday 30th May.
Rumours around the Lufthansa/MSC have been circulating for the past six months. What is new is the report that MSC will seek 60% of the equity, effectively giving the Geneva based company a controlling stake, assuming the Italian government’s share is not privileged in some way.
It is hard not to see the MSC bid for an airline as a repost to rival shipping giant CMA CGMs investment in AirFrance KLM. It also asks questions about MSC relationship with Lufthansa. Although it would be useful for MSC to have the option of using ITA as a platform for freighter and other cargo operations, MSC will also have a relationship with Lufthansa which is a major air cargo provider. Could it be that MSC is looking to have a relationship with Lufthansa, possibly acting as a marketer of its cargo capacity in the same way that CMA CGM is looking to market AirFrance capacity?
What does seem probable is that these two shipping-based logistics providers are seeking to have a significant impact on the structure of the airfreight market.
Source: Transport Intelligence, 31st May 2022
Author: Thomas Cullen