Italy's Di Maio Sees No Risk of Failure for Alitalia Package

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said he sees no risk of failure for talks with EasyJet Plc and Delta Air Lines Inc. to relaunch struggling airline Alitalia SpA.

“I am very confident because of what I have seen up to now,” Di Maio said in an interview at his Rome office. He said the Italian Treasury should take a stake of no more than 15 percent in the new company, calling the package “a relaunch not a rescue.”

“This is a market operation in which Ferrovie dello Stato is drawing up an industrial plan with EasyJet and Delta Air Lines,” Di Maio said, referring to the state rail operator. "So it will be their industrial plan which decides which players are involved."

Efforts to salvage Alitalia are being spearheaded by Di Maio, of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the League’s partner in a fractious populist coalition. Di Maio, whose party has campaigned to save jobs at distressed companies across the country, is also minister for economic development.

Finance Minister Giovanni Tria has said the Treasury will only consider taking a stake in Alitalia if talks between potential investors produce a strong business plan. Speaking to lawmakers last week, Tria confirmed that talks between Delta, EasyJet and Ferrovie are under way.

As the former flagship carrier battles to avoid liquidation, Delta and EasyJet may invest as much as 400 million euros, according to people familiar with an initial draft of the plan. The two airlines may get up to 40 percent of the new company, with state-owned Ferrovie ending up with about 30 percent and the Italian Treasury taking a minority stake.

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