Italy appoints new administrator for struggling Alitalia

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MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s industry ministry appointed on Friday a new temporary administrator for Alitalia, after his three predecessors ended their mandate without finding a solution for the struggling airline.

After a consortium of potential rescuers backtracked, the appointment of Giuseppe Leogrande allows Rome to unlock a further loan of 400 million euros ($441 million) needed to keep the loss-making carrier in business and potentially increase the chances of a future tie-up with German rival Lufthansa (DE:).

Sources had told Reuters last month that Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli would ask the current administrators – Daniele Discepolo, Enrico Laghi and Stefano Paleari – to quit to make room for a single administrator with more powers.

A consortium of potential investors – comprising Italian railways group Ferrovie dello Stato, infrastructure group Atlantia (MI:) and U.S. carrier Delta (N:) – decided not to present a binding offer for Alitalia last month after months of negotiations.

Lufthansa has repeatedly said it would be interested in investing in Alitalia once it went through a complete restructuring.

The Italian airline, which went through two previous rescues in 2008 and 2014, has a workforce of 11,600 people.

Industry analysts calculate Alitalia has already burnt through roughly 9 billion of euros in taxpayers’ money.

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