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Alitalia: probably a decree next week to extend the bridge loan

The risk is always that of an EU infringement procedure

With a decree that will probably be issued next week, the Italian government will extend by 6 months the deadline for the restitution of the bridge loan of € 900 million (plus interest), granted in May 2017 to special commissioners to allow Alitalia carrier to continue to operate. The short time before the deadline, foreseen by the law of December 15, will make an extension compulsory since at present Alitalia could not return the entire sum (although it will be difficult to do it in June), but in this way they would dilate the times hoping to find a way to turn some of the credit into equity.

In the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Labor and Economic Development Luigi Di Maio and EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, held yesterday, talked also about this, and most probably will have come reassurance on the extension. Also because otherwise it would be a crazy choice that would lead to an infringement procedure for State aid, throwing more fuel on the fire in the tense relations between Italy and the European Union. The risk, however, is high above all because on the bridge loan an investigation by the European Antitrust Authority has already started, which could impose a heavy fine on Italy.

Di Maio, however, is convinced of the goodness of the government plan and is sure that "with the binding offer of Railways until January 31 there will be a due diligence period and then you will see that many investors will come to me". The idea is always to involve the Ministry of Economy and Finance turning at least 300 million loan into shares, of which one part would remain in the Italian State directly and the other would be sold to public companies that so far have not never expressed in favor of this possibility.

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