TPG on short-list of five for Alitalia(2)

Texas Pacific Group is one of five groups selected by the Italian government to bid for struggling airline Alitalia. It now has until April to put together an offer.

US buyout firm Texas Pacific Group has made it through to the second round in the auction for Alitalia, the troubled Italian airline, along with four other bidders.

The government has selected just five groups to bid for Alitalia, the Italian treasury said in a statement today. They now have until mid-April to submit preliminary offers.

In addition to TPG, the other bidders are Air One, Italy’s second biggest carrier, UniCredit, the country’s biggest bank, US distressed investor MatlinPatterson and Italian turnaround firm Management & Capitali.

Six of the original eleven potential bidders will not be invited to submit an offer. Terra Firma was one high-profile casualty, with Benstar-Saturn Enterprises, Net Present Value, Porcellana Castello and Italian businessman Paolo Alazraki’s vehicle also missing out.

Fabio Scaccia, a high school teacher who bid “as a citizen’s protest” had already been discounted, on the grounds that that his sole financial means is a monthly salary of €1,230.

The Italian government, which owns 49 percent of Alitalia, decided in December to sell the loss-making airline, which is valued at about €1.5 billion ($2.0 billion). Buyers have agreed to buy a stake of at least 30.1 percent, which under Italian law would force them to make an offer for the whole airline.

TPG, which is also part of a consortium trying to seal an $8.6 billion deal for Australian carrier Qantas, plans to canvass support from Italian investors before submitting a final bid for Alitalia.