Italy seeks domestic investors for Alitalia

(AP)

 

The Italian government is seeking a "domestic solution" involving private investors for ailing airline Alitalia, the country's new economy minister said on Saturday.

"We are seeking a fundamentally Italian, private solution. If it does not work, we will see," Giulio Tremonti, who took office this week in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new conservative government, told state television in an interview recorded on Saturday.

"Our commitment is for an Italian consortium," he added.

Berlusconi said last month an Italian business group plus banks and airlines – none of whom he named – would make a bid for the loss-making airline after a few weeks of due diligence.

An adviser to Berlusconi wrote to the airline on Friday asking for information about its situation that could be examined by investors interested in saving it from bankruptcy.

The airline said it would study the request at its next board meeting on May 13.

Neither Tremonti nor Berlusconi's adviser, Bruno Ermolli, named any of the potential investors involved.

Alitalia bleeds more than a million euros a day.

This month it received a 300 million euro emergency loan from Romano Prodi's outgoing government in a bid to stave off bankruptcy after a takeover deal by Air France-KLM collapsed due to union opposition.

Conservative newspaper Libero reported on Saturday that businessman Mario Resca would be appointed the next chief executive officer of Alitalia.

Resca is a board member at publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA, which is controlled by Berlusconi's Fininvest holding. He would replace Maurizio Prato, who resigned last month after the Air France-KLM's deal fell apart.

"If Berlusconi needs my help, this time I won't exempt myself from giving it to him, giving up other commitments I have," Resca, who is known as a turnaround expert, was quoted as saying. 

 

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