July 15, 2019 / 6:42 PM / a month ago

Italy's state railway picks Atlantia for Alitalia rescue

FILE PHOTO: Alitalia airplanes are pictured at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s state railway Ferrovie dello Stato picked motorway operator Atlantia (ATL.MI) as a partner to join a consortium of investors for the rescue of national carrier Alitalia, Ferrovie said on Monday.

Atlantia will join Ferrovie, the finance ministry and U.S. carrier Delta (DAL.N) in a state-orchestrated effort to relaunch the ailing airline with an overall capital injection of around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

Besides Atlantia, infrastructure group Toto Holding, Lazio (LAZI.MI) soccer club chairman Claudio Lotito and airline entrepreneur German Efromovich sent in non-binding proposals on Sunday to Ferrovie adviser Mediobanca (MDBI.MI) to join the consortium.

Atlantia is expected to take a 35-40% stake in Alitalia, meaning an investment for the Benetton family-controlled group of between 300-400 million euros.

Ferrovie and the finance ministry will have an overall stake of 50% in the new company, while Delta is committed to acquiring around 10-15% of the carrier.

Ferrovie will start working as soon as possible with the partners it picked to draw up a business plan and other elements of a potential offer, the company said in a statement issued after a board meeting held earlier on Monday.

However, binding offers and a business plan for Alitalia might be finalised only in September, a source close to the situation told Reuters.

In a message posted on Facebook, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said he was not prejudiced against Atlantia but picking the company did not mean Rome would ditch a plan to revoke its motorway concession after a bridge operated by the group collapsed last year in Genoa, killing 43 people.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Deepa Babington

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