Alitalia raises less than two-thirds of emergency cash

Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:24pm EST
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By Agnieszka Flak

MILAN (Reuters) - Loss-making Alitalia has yet to raise all of the 300 million euros ($407 million) it was seeking in an emergency cash call, piling more pressure on the Italian airline and find a strategic investor to keep it flying.

Alitalia said on Thursday it had received 173 million euros by a deadline for existing shareholders to subscribe to its cash call via pledges and bank guarantees and expected to raise the rest from the state-owned postal service and other investors.

Top shareholder Air France-KLM AIRF.PA, with a 25 percent stake, refused to take up its share of the cash call, saying Alitalia's new business plan pledging severe cost cuts was not enough to save the stricken Italian carrier without its creditors writing off some of its huge debts.

The Franco-Dutch group has so far been seen as the most suitable carrier to come to Alitalia's rescue.

The emergency cash, part of a bigger rescue package engineered by the government to keep Alitalia's aircraft in the air, is seen as a stopgap measure giving the airline a few more months to find a partner to help revamp the group.

But with 700,000 euros of daily losses and net debt of 800 million euros Alitalia could soon have to ground its planes.

The failure to fully cover the capital increase illustrates that some of Alitalia's existing investors have doubts that the carrier, which has made a profit only sporadically in its 67-year history, can be turned around.

"Not even Alitalia's own shareholders believe that the company can be rescued," said Andrea Giuricin, a transport analyst at Milan's Bicocca University, who has written a book on the airline. "Even if they get to 300 million euros, Alitalia remains very weak and this cash will only give it maximum six months."   Continued...

Scale models of Alitalia airplanes are displayed at a shop selling models of vehicles in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi