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Etihad mulls buying Alitalia’s shares in Air France-KLM: report

Air France-KLM already owns 25 per cent of the Italian carrier

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s airline Etihad Airways is considering acquiring some of Alitalia SpA’s minority shares as part of a deal with Air France-KLM which already owns 25 per cent of the Italian carrier, French business newspaper Les Echos reported on Tuesday, citing unspecified sources.

Air France-KLM is currently battling to restore its profitability in the face of tough economic headwinds and intensifying competition from low-cost airlines.

As soon as the Franco-Dutch airline’s financial situation has improved, around 2014 or 2015, it would buy Etihad’s shares in Alitalia in a cash or share swap transaction, Les Echos says.

No one at Etihad or Air France was immediately available to comment.

Alitalia’s shareholder pact ends on January 12.

Etihad is a commercial partner of Air France-KLM and has stakes in Air Berlin PLC and Aer Lingus Group PLC.

On Monday, Air France-KLM denied a report that it was in talks to buy out Italian investors in Alitalia.

“Air France-KLM confirms that there is no negotiation on the purchase of all or part of the shares held by Italian investors,” an Air France-KLM spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Italian newspaper Il Messaggero on Sunday reported that the French airline was working on a plan to buy Alitalia from local investors by the summer, without citing sources.