BERLIN (Reuters) - ITA Chairman Alfredo Altavilla has welcomed an approach by Swiss-based shipping group MSC and German carrier Lufthansa to buy the majority of Alitalia successor ITA Airways, he told Germany's Handelsblatt.
"I am very pleased about this expression of interest," Altavilla told the Handelsblatt daily.
MSC said on Monday that it and Lufthansa want to buy a majority stake in ITA Airways and have asked for an exclusivity period of 90 days to study the deal.
Lufthansa confirmed on Tuesday that it was in talks with MSC and that it was a potential partner in the shipping group's possible acquisition of a majority state in ITA.
Altavilla told the newspaper the industrial logic of the offer was "very convincing" and "extremely interesting", noting that he sees synergies in the cargo business.
"Cargo is now the sector where the highest margins are made," he said, adding this could also help Milan Malpensa Airport, which has long played an important role in the Italian cargo business.
He added that if the Italian government grants MSC and Lufthansa exclusive talks, 90 days is "a reasonable period of time to reach a result".
Two sources told Reuters on Sunday that Lufthansa was in talks to buy 40% in ITA Airways.
MSC said on Monday it and Lufthansa will decide their respective involvement in the deal after studying financial data of the Italian airline.
"We will use the next 90 days to explore all possible options for cooperation, including a possible equity investment," said the German airline on Tuesday.
In past decades troubled airline Alitalia tried but failed to a clinch successful alliance with Air France and, more recently, with Arab Emirates' Ethiad.
(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Emma Thomasson; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Madeline Chambers)