The Uvet group sells Blue Panorama to the American fund Bateleur Capital. The third Italian airline – in 2019 – had to ground the planes on 27 October last due to the crisis due to the consequences of the coronavirus and the non-payment of state aid. In a note confirming the agreement, the two companies do not disclose the value of the transaction, but according to the Corriere, the figure would not exceed 20-25 million euros. The sources specify that Bateleur’s entry will be gradual and the fund will also be able to have 100% of the company. One of the main obstacles is the 49% limit imposed on non-EU shareholders in order to allow the airline to remain an EU company.
Uvet Viaggi e Turismo, the Italian tourism hub and parent company Blue Panorama Airlines, and Bateleur Capital LLC, a US investment fund based in New York, announce that the share sale agreement has been signed which provides for the purchase by the fund of 100% of the shares of Blue Panorama after obtaining the authorizations from the regulatory bodies, the note reads. Bateleur Capital will also provide a convertible loan to support the company’s financial needs, the statement continues. Which specifies how the agreement will be perfected with the approval of Blue Panorama Airlines’ arrangement with creditors, which was presented last Friday 29 April 2022.
I am very satisfied with this agreement due to the employment and stability perspective that opens up for employees as a result of the choice of a solid, competent and reliable partner, comments Luca Patan, president of the Uvet group and of Blue Panorama. For us who have always operated in the civil aviation sector, the prospect of driving a carrier in Italy is a challenge that we want to face and win, adds the managing partner of Bateleur Capital, Aziz Hassanali.
The crux of nationality
The details are not yet many. If the entry of Bateleur Capital is gradual, it is likely that this will serve to take the time to open an EU branch of the US fund to which to sell the shares of Blue Panorama so that the company remains a European company. In this sense, the ok of the regulatory bodies and the court will be needed. Another option that the US fund works in parallel to create a consortium of EU investors (perhaps other funds).
Before the health emergency Blue Panorama flew to 54 destinations on four continents (Africa, America, Asia and Europe). In 2019 it transported 1.8 million passengers and recorded revenues of 324 million euros (+ 11% on 2018) with a positive Ebitda of 4.5 million. In October 2021, it had just two aircraft (a Boeing 737 and an Airbus A330 repainted with the livery of Luke Air, the new company of the group) and 400 employees. On October 29, 2021, the company filed an appeal for admission to the composition with creditors procedure. From the documents filed in court as of October 31, 2021, Blue Panorama had recorded a loss of almost 45 million euros after having lost 60 million in 2020.
The trade unions
In order to evaluate the operation, we expect to understand all the details, starting from what the buyer’s business plan is and what the repercussions on employment and development of the activities, declares in a note Filt Cgil. The union says it is worried about the future of the more than 350 workers who have not received income for several months now. At the moment – continues the note – we have little information on the buyer, Bateleur Capital, a fund that appears to be American and therefore unable by European legislation to take over more than 49% of the company.
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