Notification of a deal between Italy and Germany to hand a minority stake in ITA to Lufthansa “is a long-standing issue” that “deserves a solution”, said European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni. Italy and Germany agreed the deal in May, but it is yet to be ratified.
Gentiloni, who is the European Economy Commissioner but does not deal with competition, says he trusts the European Commission will recognise the importance of the work done so far.
“It is not part of my brief, but it is an issue that I know well and which is close to my heart,” said Gentiloni.
“Within the collegial responsibilities of the Commission, I will try to address it. It is an issue that has been dragging on for a long time and I think it deserves a solution.
“I think the government has worked hard to find this solution and I trust that the European Commission recognises the importance of this work,” he added.
In May, Italy and Germany agreed to the acquisition by German carrier Lufthansa in the two-year period 2023-2024 of a 41% stake in ITA‘s share capital. This is against an investment of €325million.
However, EU competition and antitrust authorities still need to approve the deal. They can do that following official notification from the two parties. According to the European Commission, this notification has not been forthcoming.
What does the EC say about the delay?
On Sunday, Italian economy ministry sources said Italy was waiting for the outcome of an EC probe.
“The notification of the agreement for the sale of a minority share of ITA to Lufthansa to the European Commission for Competition is accepted, by practice, only at the end of an investigation that the same commission is carrying out very meticulously in the context of a pre-notification phase that has already begun”, they explained at the MEF.
Separately, EC sources said the commission was in close contact with Italy and Germany over the deal.
“The European Commission remains in close contact with the parties to discuss the transaction.
“Prior to its official notification, these pre-notification contacts are continuous and are part of the standard process for assessing a complex transaction”, the sources added.