Etihad set to save Alitalia: report

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Etihad is set to buy a 49 percent stake in Alitalia. Photo: Arpingstone/Flickr
17:23 CEST+02:00
The Abu Dhabi airline Etihad has approved a deal that will see it buy a stake in the ailing Alitalia, with Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying the move could be confirmed in “a matter of hours”, Il Messaggero reported on Thursday.

Etihad, which has an almost 30 percent stake in Air Berlin, is set to invest €500 million in the Italian carrier as part of a “strategic alliance” that will see it take a 49 percent stake, the newspaper said.

Renzi reportedly said during a Democratic Party meeting on Thursday that the deal would be confirmed within hours.

Talks between the two companies got underway in December, around the time analysts said the heavily-indebted Alitalia would be bankrupt within six months if a partner was not found.

Alitalia has been through years of crises and was at one point hoping for a rescue from shareholder Air France-KLM.

In early May, it was reported that the new Alitalia would have around 10,000 personnel and hold on to the slots and flights it required.

The majority of Alitalia's debt, the cost of redundancies and ongoing legal disputes would instead go into a holding controlled by the consortium.

Italian media said Etihad wanted 3,000 redundancies, more than the 2,000 already negotiated by management.

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Italy is the fourth-biggest air transport market in Europe and access would allow Etihad to take away market share from German carrier Lufthansa and its hub in Frankfurt as well as tap into busi-ness travellers based in wealthy industrial regions of northern Italy.

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