Lufthansa is ready to join the scramble for Iberia and Alitalia if the price is right, describing the two carriers as "ideal partners", according to telegraph.co.uk. (4/10/2007)
Chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber reportedly said Lufthansa, brimming with funds, aimed to play a central role in the wave of consolidation sweeping Europe´s airline industry.
"Both airlines fit us well, but the conditions must be right. We don´t want a millstone round our neck," he reportedly said.
The report added: "Mayrhuber was clearly alluding to the onerous terms imposed by the Italian state on the sale of Alitalia. Rome insists that any buyer maintains chronic over-manning and loss-making domestic routes, even though the strike-plagued carrier is losing a ?1.2m (Ł817,000) a day." It added: "Italy´s business federation Confindustria said it would take a "kamikaze" buyer to take on the crippled carrier under such terms. In the end, just three suitors have stayed the course including Russia´s Aeroflot."
"In the case of Iberia it´s a matter of price, which is undoubtledly overheated after all this takeover talk," reportedly said Mayrhuber. "Besides another big European airline [British Airways] already has a 10pc state in Iberia."
According to the same report, Mayrhuber said there was extreme ferment in the airline industry following the Open Skies agreement with the United States, which allows Europe´s carriers to pick up passengers from London, Madrid, Paris or other European cities for direct flights to the US.
"We´re in a very tense time with so much money pouring into the capital markets, and we must be careful not get caught in the hype. We mustn´t make a false investment that turns out be too costly," he said.
Spanish airline Iberia has reportedly hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to advise it on a possible sale.
As per the information available, Iberia has become a prime takeover target following a new transatlantic air services pact that is expected to bring a consolidation of the European airline industry.