Air France Decision On Alitalia Rescue Evenly Balanced: Source

France Covers Obama’s Middle East Retreat

Air France-KLM is crucial to Alitalia’s chances of keeping flying, but the source told Reuters that the Italian carrier’s survival plan fell short of its requirements. “The position of Air France-KLM is 50:50 at this stage,” the source said. “The business plan presented last week was not suitable, the conditions were not fulfilled, particularly in terms of debt restructuring.” However, the source added that Alitalia was “of strategic interest” to Air France-KLM, which owns 25 percent of the airline that has not made a profit for more than a decade. Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) approved the 300 million-euro ($408 million) share issue along with Alitalia’s other investors during a meeting that lasted until the early hours of Tuesday. But it is not obliged to participate in the cash call, and has always said it would attach strict conditions before giving any help. Analysts suggest Air France-KLM is dragging its feet in order to secure stricter restructuring concessions from the Italian government and other shareholders. The cash call, part of a wider bailout, is seen as only a stop-gap solution before talks on a possible tie-up between Alitalia and Air France-KLM. Massimo Sarmi, the head of Italy’s post office, which has agreed to commit 75 million euros to the capital increase, was flying to Paris to discuss matters with Air France, a second source told Reuters. An Air France-KLM spokesman declined to comment. Alitalia came close to being grounded last weekend after its major creditor Eni (ENI.MI) threatened to cut off fuel supplies. Rome has patched together an emergency 500 million-euro fund, persuading the state-owned post office to take part and banks Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) and Unicredit (CRDI.MI) to provide guarantees of up to 100 million euros. A broader consortium of banks would put up 200 million in existing and new loans.

Writing for the World Today magazine, Mr. Grand describes a France that is troubled about the dwindling prospect of Western countries “enforcing” peace and security. “This more interventionist and Atlanticist France,” he says, “sees U.S. leadership often lacking resolve, hesitant, tempted by strategic retrenchment.” It’s a view that jibes with France’s experience with Mr. Obama’s erratic policy. Last October, the White House contacted both France and Britain to say that America would move to an interventionist position on Syria akin to theirs after the November U.S. election. Pfft. Both French and British officials told me that after being kept in the dark for two months, they learned in January this year that the White House plan was dead. A French official also said that in a discussion on Mali in October 2012, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised, referring to an eventual French incursion, “Whatever you need, ask me. You’ll get it.” As it turned out, the White House overruled Mr. Panetta, according to the official.

Top Comments: Vive la France part 2 – The Dordogne

After visiting the magestic Loire Valley , Brian and I took the toll road south to make good time as we headed for the second part of our three-region exploration of France. Our destination for the night was the prefecture of the departement Perigord, as the French commonly call the region, the city of Perigueux. After driving on country roads through lovely village after village during our first three days, pulling into Perigueux was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t an ugly city by any stretch, it was just rather uninspiring. We checked into a nice enough but plain Jane hotel catering to business folks and headed out for dinner. It was at that very moment that the skies opened up with a storm the likes of which I hadn’t seen in years. In the two blocks we walked to find a restaurant, we were soaked to the bone, even with our umbrellas. The rest of the night we were treated to an awesome show of lightening and thunder. In my opinion, it is the best way to pass time in Perigueux. Early the next morning we set out to explore the Dordogne. We loosely charted a course toward a castle we had read about that had opened itself up as a hotel. We knew where we started at point A and where we hoped to end up at point B and then just took any small road we ran across that took us in an Easterly direction. Within the first half hour, the France that I had pictured in my minds-eye when dreaming of this trip began to emerge. The relatively flat landscape of the Loire had given way to gently rolling hills, impossibly beautiful farmhouses and small communities all built out of honey-colored stone and rough hewn lumber.