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Judgment in Case C-287/12 P Ryanair Ltd v Commission, Italy and


The Court of Justice confirms the General Court’s judgment upholding the Commission decisions holding the Italian State’s loan to Alitalia to be unlawful, but permitting the sale of its assets (Judgment in Case C-287/12 P Ryanair Ltd v Commission, Italy and Alitalia)

In 2008, the Italian State granted a loan of €300 million to the air transport company Alitalia1 and gave it also the option of counting that amount as part of its own capital. Alitalia, then in a situation of insolvency, was placed under extraordinary administration2 and a bank was appointed as independent expert, responsible for verifying that its assets would be sold at a price in line with the market price. The bid tendered by the Compagnia Aerea Italiana (‘CAI’) for the purchase of certain Alitalia assets, in response to the call for declarations of interest published for that purpose, was sent by the Italian authorities to the Commission.

The Commission initiated a formal investigation procedure in connection with the loan and the option of counting the amount thereof as part of Alitalia’s own capital. By a first decision, the Commission declared that the loan constituted unlawful State aid incompatible with the common market, and ordered its recovery from Alitalia3.

By a second decision, the Commission found that the measure concerning the sale of Alitalia assets did not involve the grant of State aid to the purchasers, subject to full compliance with the undertakings given by the Italian authorities that the sale would be made at market price. Moreover, the Commission confirmed that the extraordinary administration procedure to which Alitalia had been subjected also did not result in the grant of State aid in favour of the purchasers4. It concluded that the procedure implemented by Italy entailed no economic continuity between Alitalia and the buyers of its assets and that the sale did not have the effect of circumventing the obligation to recover aid.

By its judgment of 20125, the General Court dismissed Ryanair’s action and thereby upheld the Commission decisions holding the loan granted by Italy to Alitalia to be unlawful and permitting the sale of its assets.

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