Etihad Airways received the Airfinance Journal ‘Merger and Acquisition Deal of the Year’ award at a recent ceremony in Miami.

The prestigious accolade was presented in recognition of Etihad Airways’ 2014 acquisition of a strategic minority equity stake in Alitalia, the national carrier of Italy.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “We are delighted and honoured to receive this award. It is an endorsement not only of this transaction, but of our business model, which leverages partnership and economies of scale for network growth and to create business synergies across the broad spectrum of airline activities.

“Alitalia is one of the most iconic brands in global aviation in one of the world’s largest travel markets. We were confident that with the right level of capitalisation and a strong, strategic business plan, the airline could be turned around and repositioned as a premium global airline once again.”

As part of the restructuring deal valued in total at more than €1.75 billion, Etihad Airways invested €560 million to acquire a 49 per cent shareholding in New Alitalia, 75 per cent of its frequent flyer program and asset purchases to restructure the airline’s balance sheet.  This was complemented by a further equity investment of €300 million from existing core Alitalia shareholders, including Intesa San Paolo (€88m), Poste Italiane (€75m), UniCredit (€63.5m), Atlantia (€51m), IMMSI (€10m), Pirelli (€10m) and Gavio (€2.5m).

The transaction also made provision for up to €598 million in financial restructuring of short and medium term debt provided by financial institutions and existing bank shareholders, and €300 million of new loan facilities extended by Italian financial institutions.

The transaction was completed on 31 December 2014, after receiving European Commission merger clearance, leading to the establishment of New Alitalia SAI.