Ryanair is preparing takeover bid for Alitalia, says Michael O'Leary

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/14/ryanair-preparing-tak
Thursday 14 September 2017 09.23 EDT

Ryanair is preparing a binding takeover bid for Italy’s bankrupt airline Alitalia but has no interest in the ailing German carrier Air Berlin, according to its chief executive, Michael O’Leary.

O’Leary said the Irish firm was finalising the details of a deal that would be just the second major acquisition in the no-frills airline’s 33-year history.

Alitalia’s brand and long-haul operations would survive the takeover but Ryanair, which prefers to own its aircraft, would jettison Alitalia’s model of leasing planes.

“We would have to order new planes, whether Boeing or Airbus,” said O’Leary.

He said he hoped any deal would see Alitalia pilots and crew keep their jobs, but signalled that they would have to accept altered employment terms in line with Ryanair’s own.

Alitalia was put up for sale earlier this year after the Italian government finally approved its collapse into administration, having pumped nearly £6bn into the company over a decade.

It followed a vote by employees to reject a rescue plan, which would have seen wages slashed in return for a further €2bn (£1.7bn) injection from shareholders, including Etihad, the Gulf airline, which owns 49%.

Air Berlin is also on the block but O’Leary said he had no interest in making a bid, repeating previous accusations that it was a stitch-up designed to make Lufthansa stronger.

He said he expected EU competition authorities would demand substantial remedies in the event Lufthansa buys Air Berlin, with the carrier likely to have to give up slots on routes within Germany to preserve competition.

If the Alitalia deal proceeds, it would be Ryanair’s first successful takeover since it bought its rival Buzz from KLM in 2003.

Ryanair was blocked by the European Union from acquiring Aer Lingus in 2013 after three failed attempts at swallowing its Irish compatriot.

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