The deal is billions, all played out in the depths of politics, business and lobbies. At stake, in this corporate and financial risk that would like to privatize the entrance gates of an isolated island, there is much more than a strategic airport like that of Cagliari. The game is between tourist markets to be valorised or mortified, between territories to be sacrificed and others to be exploited. A controversial and ambiguous chessboard, where public interests very often overlap with private ones, where institutions can choose the path of complicit silence or that of strenuous opposition. There certainly isn't much time left to know which side you're on.

Show down

The " show down" is set: by next April 30th the Chamber of Commerce of Cagliari must dissolve the reservation: go ahead with the privatization of the Cagliari airport, effectively handing over arms and baggage to the very private F2i fund, or stop in front of the very heavy contrary opinions from institutions, accounting and civil judiciary, employers' associations and the Region itself which challenged all the documents of the operation. The times are set out in the resolutions of the Competition and Market Authority: « the deadline for the fulfillment of the suspensive conditions, initially set at 31 December 2023, has been extended until 30 April 2024 pursuant to an amending agreement of the Investment Agreement signed on 29 December 2023 ".

Suspension clauses

This is the whole issue of the privatization of the southern Sardinia airport: the Chamber of Commerce has in fact already decided on the "merger" of 94.4% of the shares of the Cagliari airport with those of Ligantia, the F2i team, Black Rock and Fondazione Sardegna which holds the majority of the airports of Olbia and Alghero, but the date of 30 April has been set to verify whether all the "suspensive clauses" have been positively fulfilled. In reality, to abort that operation, we wouldn't even have to wait for the set deadline.

Court of Auditors

In fact, one of the clauses provided for the green light from the Magistrates of the Court of Auditors who, however, in recent months have heavily denied it with arguments as insurmountable as they are decisive. That mandatory ruling from the Accounting Judiciary would have been enough to blow everything up, but in the buildings of Piazza Yenne, headquarters of the Cagliari Chamber of Commerce, the blitz is being planned before the end of the month, as if the Court of Auditors' verdict were waste paper. An opinion that puts the Chamber of Commerce against the wall with a simple consideration: your institutional mission it concerns only and exclusively the territory of Cagliari and Oristano. In practice, it is not possible for the Accounting Judges to sell their own airport company to take care, even if in a minority, of the airports of Alghero and Olbia.

Trespassing prohibited

In essence, the Court of Auditors points out, you are not the "Chamber of Commerce of Sardinia", but you represent only two provinces: you have the obligation, with your economic activities, to remain within the border of the territory of competence. In conclusion, for the Court of Auditors, a corporate asset of that importance, decisive for the future of Sardinia, cannot be privatised. The risk, according to the Judges, is to "invest" and "distract" any profits from the operation, limited to a mere share exchange, without any type of economic gain for the Chamber of Commerce, ending up investing those shares in an area outside the provincial borders.

Ignore the Judges

In the upper levels of finance, however, starting from F2i up to the Chamber of Commerce, they are convinced that they can ignore "the ruling" of the accounting magistrates, despite the fact that the judges have put down on paper an encrypted and cryptic message: if you decide to go you will assume all the consequences later. The deal, however, is so significant that the protagonists of privatization could decide not to stop, despite those suspension clauses. Among the potential stops to the operation, however, the Chamber of Commerce had never mentioned the Region's position.

Regional crossroads

In reality, however, the previous regional council adopted two acts, and they were of no small importance: it intervened " ad adiuvandum ", in support of the appeal against the operation presented to the Regional Administrative Court by ConfCommercio; presented an appeal to the civil judge on the exclusion of the Region from the decision-making process for the merger of the airports of northern Sardinia. The showdown, therefore, will be in the courts, and will be imminent: the TAR judges, in fact, had considered the position of the Court of Auditors sufficient to block the "privatization" operation, but if the Chamber of Commerce were to decide to proceed the case would be "recalled" immediately by the TAR Board to discuss it on its merits, with all that follows. It is in this key step that the Region's position will be decisive: if the Regional Attorney's Office confirms the "ad adiuvandum" intervention of Viale Trento it is clear that, for F2i and the Chamber of Commerce, continuing with the "merger-privatization" will not be easy .

Double privatization

However , the news communicated to the financial markets announcing the sale of 49% of the share of "2i Aeroporti", the holding of F2i, the fund which should also take over the management of the Cagliari airport, after those of Alghero and Olbia. The French land holding company Ardian and Credit Agricole Assurances are selling the shares that fall within the financial system of the fund that is planning the "checkmate" of the Sardinian airports.

Emirs & Americans

The value of the share put up for sale is estimated at around one billion euros. Among the international portfolios interested in the operation there is everything and more: from Qatari funds to those of the Emirates, from the American ones of Brookfield and JP Morgan , which would be added to those of Black Rock , up to the interest shown from Interogo , the holding company of the Kamprad family, the owners of Ikea. Therefore, it is a sort of "double privatization" that could end up bringing the island's airports into the hands of Emiri and other international financial funds ready to capitalize on the same "privatization" pursued by the Cagliari Chamber of Commerce. An international-financial chessboard in full swing which suggests further dangers for the entire Sardinian airport system.

Humiliated region

The Sardinian region will be totally left out of this match. If the financial operation goes ahead, Viale Trento will not touch the ball. The “F2i” fund and the Chamber of Commerce, in fact, have already shared the seats: F2i will appoint the CEO and the Chamber's top management will designate the president of the company. For the Regional Palace the slap is already written in the shareholders' agreements: he will only be entitled to one place on the Board of Directors.

Pro forma appointment

A pro forma appointment, without any weight, further humiliating after the considerations carried out by the Guarantor Authority: « It should also be kept in mind that one of the members of the Board of Directors of Ligantia, on the basis of the provisions of the Shareholders' Agreement, is designated on the proposal of the Region of Sardinia (which does not hold shares of Ligantia's share capital) and is appointed by the Ligantia shareholders' meeting in which the two majority shareholders represent a total of 81% of the capital. It is therefore believed that this representative, although proposed by the Region, must also be considered an expression of the two majority shareholders ". In other words, go ahead and point it out, but the nomination is still made by the subjects who planned the privatization. For Sardinia and the Sardinians the scenario is disturbing: within a few days they could find themselves without the keys to enter and exit their home, an isolated island.

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