EasyJet still interested in Alitalia’s short-haul business

EasyJet has submitted an expression of interest for Alitalia. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018

EasyJet still interested in Alitalia’s short-haul business

  • EasyJet, Germany’s Lufthansa and fellow budget carrier Wizz Air submitted expressions of interest this year for Alitalia or parts of its business
  • EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said that any deal had to be strategic, had to be something the firm could handle operationally and had to make commercial sense

LONDON: EasyJet is still talking to the Italian government over Alitalia’s short-haul operations but the head of the budget airline stressed on Thursday that any deal needs to make commercial sense.
EasyJet, Germany’s Lufthansa and fellow budget carrier Wizz Air submitted expressions of interest this year for Alitalia or parts of its business, but the lengthy formation of a new anti-establishment government delayed the process.
EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said that any deal had to be strategic, had to be something the firm could handle operationally and had to make commercial sense.
“Those are the things we are looking for and those are the discussions we are having. And sometimes the discussions are progressing faster and sometimes they are progressing a little bit slower,” he said at the Aviation Festival industry event.
Earlier on Thursday easyJet also said Singapore Airlines was joining “Worldwide by easyJet,” a service it launched last year to offer long-haul destinations without the need for costly and complex interline and codeshare agreements.
Closer to home, Lundgren said that he had been reassured by both Brussels and London that at least a basic agreement would be in place to enable flights to continue after Brexit next March.
Alitalia, a symbol of Italy’s post-war economic boom but now struggling to compete against low-cost carriers and high-speed trains, was put under special administration last year.
Italy’s previous government initiated a sale process, but the country’s new administration wants the majority of the loss-making carrier under state control.
Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said in July there was a need for 51 percent of Alitalia to be kept in Italian hands “but with a strong investor next to it.”
However, the state-appointed commissioners who are running Alitalia said last month that three offers they had received were not appropriate, and they had not entered exclusive negotiations with any bidder.
“The government and the state would like to have a stake in there but that still leaves things open for potential other partnerships,” Lundgren told reporters. “So that’s what we are in discussions with them about.”
Under the Singapore Airline’s agreement, easyJet’s customers will be able to connect with Singapore’s flights via Milan Malpensa and with Singapore’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot via Berlin Tegel later this year.
Lundgren said 10 airlines, including Norwegian and WestJet, were now partners in the program, and he was in talks with other carriers to join.
He also said easyJet was working on contingency plans to cope with Brexit and it wanted clarity on Britain’s future trading relationship with the European Union.
“We know regardless of what’s going to happen in terms of deal or no deal that there will be a bare bones agreement in place,” he said.
“That’s very clearly confirmed to us in the discussions we had both from Brussels but also from Westminster. It would be inconceivable there would be no flying between UK and mainland Europe.”


Struggling WeWork mulls bailout deals with SoftBank, JP Morgan

Updated 14 October 2019

Struggling WeWork mulls bailout deals with SoftBank, JP Morgan

TOKYO: Under-pressure start-up WeWork is considering two huge bailout plans including a cash injection that could see Japanese investment titan SoftBank take control of the firm, according to reports.
The office-sharing giant had been on course for a massive initial public offering until last month when questions began to be asked over its governance and profit outlook.
The firm’s valuation plunged from $47 billion in January to less than $20 billion in September and the listing plans have been dropped, while co-founder Adam Neumann stepped down as chief executive.
With New York-based parent company We Co. not expected to push for the IPO this year, the cash-strapped firm is looking for a financial lifeline.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Bloomberg News cited unnamed sources close to the talks as saying SoftBank — the US firm’s biggest shareholder — had drawn up a proposal that gives it full control of WeWork.
The move would dilute the voting power of Neumann, who remains as chairman of the company he started in 2010 and also currently maintains control a majority of voting shares.
They also reported that WeWork is looking at a deal with Wall Street giant JP Morgan to raise $5 billion in debt, with the Times saying directors of We would be meeting as soon as Monday afternoon to discuss that.
“WeWork has retained a major Wall Street financial institution to arrange financing,” the Journal reported a company spokesman as saying.
“Approximately 60 financing sources have signed confidentiality agreements and are meeting with the company’s management and its bankers over the course of this past week and this coming week.”
The New York-based startup that launched in 2010 has touted itself as revolutionizing commercial real estate by offering shared, flexible workspace arrangements, and has operations in 111 cities in 29 countries.
However, the company, which lost $1.9 billion last year, has faced skepticism over its ability to make money, especially if the global economy slows significantly.