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Sun 28 Sep 2014 09:56 AM

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Etihad to hire Air Berlin exec to manage airline stakes

CFO Ulf Huettmeyer will manage Abu Dhabi carrier's equity stakes in eight airlines, including Aer Lingus, Air Serbia, Virgin Australia and Alitalia

Etihad to hire Air Berlin exec to manage airline stakes

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is set to hire Air Berlin finance chief Ulf Huettmeyer to manage its airline holdings around the world, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Such a move would leave Germany's second-biggest airline without a finance chief for the first time since its stock market flotation in 2006, just as it struggles to return to profit.

It would also put 41-year-old Huettmeyer in charge of Etihad's equity stakes in eight airlines around the world, including in Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia and Alitalia, which the carrier has picked up as part of a global expansion strategy.

"It is just a matter of time before he joins Etihad," the source said on Saturday.

German magazine Wirtschafts Woche earlier cited company sources as saying Air Berlin's board of directors was due to discuss Huettmeyer's planned departure in a meeting this weekend.

It said Air Berlin had already begun searching for a successor to Huettmeyer.

Air Berlin declined to comment on the report. Etihad was not immediately available to comment.

Huettmeyer, previously an executive at Commerzbank , was appointed finance chief of Air Berlin at age 32 in 2006.

He oversaw the carrier's stock market flotation, its rapid expansion that left the group saddled with debt, subsequent capital increases, bond issues and cost cuts, as well as the deal that gave Etihad a 29 percent stake.

Wirtschafts Woche also said Air Berlin was seeking to end an agreement to lease 14 Boeing 737 aircraft from tourism group TUI AG as part of its turnaround efforts. At the same time, TUI is gradually exiting its holding in Air Berlin, which last stood at 4 percent.

The group has said it wants to harmonise its fleet of narrow-body aircraft, which currently comprises planes made by Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. On Friday, it announced the cancellation of $5 billion worth of orders for Boeing aircraft.

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