The new chief executive of the former Italian state-owned ferry company Tirrenia has responded to fears about the recent buyout by private ferry operator Vincenzo Onorato by assuring shippers that cargo tariffs will be frozen for at least the rest of this year.
Since the 100% buyout in early July, Onorato, owner of Moby Ferries, has taken control of the majority of routes between Sardinia and the Italian mainland. Tirrenia chief executive Massimo Mura, who is also Moby’s cargo business manager, said Moby would respect anti-trust regulations, allowing Tirrenia to operate with full autonomy and enable prices to remain the same.
Tirrenia’s services are subsidised by the Italian state to the tune of EUR72 million (USD78 million) a year to cover losses from winter services and to ensure ‘territorial continuity’.
In 2012 the Italian government launched a tender procedure for the ailing Sardinian ferry company to save it from likely bankruptcy. Ferry companies Moby, GNV, and SNAV were encouraged by the government to set up a joint venture to bid for Tirrenia and will assume debts estimated at over EUR500 million.
Onorato has been given until the autumn to finalise the financing agreement with American fund Och-Siff to acquire Tirrenia’s shares held by Clessidra (35%), GIP (Group Port Investments, 15%), and Shipping Investment (10%), as well as Clessidra’s 32% share of Moby, which it has controlled since 2007.