Air France said Sept. 23 it would await more information from the Italian carriers board before committing to any move. Hiring Advisers The relatively small capital increase being sought suggests the move is only a short or mid-term solution, said Yan Derocle, an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris. Air France has hired Lazard Ltd. (LAZ) and Mediobanca SpA (MB) as advisers to consider its options on Alitalia, Italy s Messaggero reported this week, without saying where it obtained the information. Alitalia in turn has hired Gruppo Banca Leonardo as seeks to end operating losses in 2014. While owning Alitalia would give Europes largest airline access to one of the regions biggest aviation markets and help feed trans-Atlantic routes, the need for capital comes as Air Frances domestic unit struggles to stem its own losses. The Paris-based carrier last week scrapped a target of reaching break-even at Air France as it sought to cut 2,800 more jobs. Italys Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Maurizio Lupi, met with his French counterpart yesterday to discuss the situation. He has said the government is not against Air France doubling its stake, while seeking guarantees on jobs and investments for the flagship carrier. Falling Traffic The Italian airlines passenger traffic retreated 4 percent to 10.7 million passengers in the first six months, with revenue falling to 1.62 billion euros. Net financial debt for the carrier reached 946 million euros, including 600 million euros for aircraft liabilities, it said. Alitalias board will reconvene on Oct. 3, the airline said. In July, Alitalia management, which in March promised to reach break-even in 2013, put the requirement for additional financial resources at 300 million euros this year.
France to examine laws curbing Sunday shopping
A sporadic debate revived last week after a court, ruling on an unfair-competition lawsuit brought by a rival hardware vendor, ordered home improvement chains Leroy Merlin and Castorama to shut 14 Paris-area stores on Sundays. It threatened fines of 120,000 euros ($162,000) on each store that violated the rules. The stores got temporary waivers, but their employees were growling insisting that Sunday openings give them needed extra pay and suit customers who find it hard to shop during the work week bustle. “We want to work Sunday! Let us work!” said Gerard Fillon, spokesman for an association of employees whose name translates as Sunday’s Handymen, and a Leroy Merlin employee. At one store in Gennevilliers, some employees dressed in T-shirts with “Yes Week End” written on them. Ayrault commissioned a panel to report on the complex issue by late November. “The government notes that Sunday rest is an essential principle in terms of protecting workers and social cohesion” while recognizing that “the existence of Sunday work is a reality,” his office said in a noncommittal statement. The current debate stems from a 2009 move by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right government that eased back curbs on Sunday store openings. The efforts faced political opposition and resulted in a mish-mash of legal waivers, special-zone exemptions and other loopholes. Most French consumers are used to the country’s Sunday rhythm: Shopping is restricted to tourist areas or owner-operated stores. Restaurants are exempt, but even supermarkets only open a half-day with some exceptions.