Strikes Unlikely to Halt Sale of Alitalia

Labor strife has repeatedly frustrated the efforts of Alitalia to restructure but, for once, wildcat strikes aimed at thwarting its takeover seem unable to halt a deal, the International Herald Tribune reported. While hundreds of flight cancellations dominated headlines as protests entered their second week, CAI, a consortium of Italian businessmen, was quietly but swiftly nearing the finish line in its bid to buy and resurrect the airline, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection. The group overcame the main regulatory hurdle by winning European Commission backing for the €375 million, or $475 million, takeover last week. Approval by the airline's bankruptcy administrator is expected this week. The administrator must ensure that CAI's offer is not below market value. But with no other bidders, and the airline's cash reserves expected to dry up by the end of the month, he has already suggested that the offer would be accepted. "We'll wrap up the deal this week," the administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, told Italian television. He added that CAI's offer was not far off the value of Alitalia assets as estimated by independent advisers. CAI is offering €275 million for Alitalia's flight operations and €100 million in a mix of cash and debt for other units and will take on further debt of €625 million. Read more.