Lufthansa Group is once again making a play for state-owned Italian airline ITA.
On Wednesday, Lufthansa submitted an offer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance for a minority stake in the airline, plus options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date.
Lufthansa said its immediate goal is to reach a memorandum of understanding with the ministry so that more detailed and extensive discussions can begin.
“These talks would primarily focus on the form of a possible equity investment, the commercial and operational integration of ITA into the Lufthansa Airline Group, as well as resulting synergies,” the company said in a statement.
Lufthansa Group didn’t say how much it has offered for an ITA stake or how large the stake it seeks. Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources, reported that Lufthansa would seek an initial 40% stake.
This isn’t the first time Lufthansa has taken an interest in ITA, which replaced Alitalia as Italy’s flag carrier in late 2021. Last May, Lufthansa Group and MSC Group together placed a formal bid for ITA. In the late summer, after that dalliance broke down, the Italian government entered into exclusive discussions with a consortium formed by Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and U.S. investment fund Certares.
Now, with that exclusive period over and no deal, Lufthansa has returned to the table.
Obtaining ITA would have high strategic value for Lufthansa Group, which said that Italy is the most important market for its airline portfolio outside of home markets and the U.S.
“Italy’s importance for both business and private travel lies in its strong export-oriented economy and status as one of Europe’s top vacation spots,” the company said.
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