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Sat 21 Dec 2013 12:17 PM

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Italian gov't says monitoring Alitalia's Etihad talks

Abu Dhabi carrier is reportedly in talks with struggling Alitalia over $413m cash injection

Italian gov't says monitoring Alitalia's Etihad talks

Italian authorities have said that they are "watching with interest" ongoing negotiations between national airline Alitalia and Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Aiirways, along with other potential investors.

News agency Bloomberg reported late last week that the troubled Rome-based carrier had entered talks with the Emirati airline over a possible €300m ($413m) capital injection, with negotiations to make Etihad Alitalia's top investor already at an advanced stage.

A final decision has not yet been reached and it is understood that Alitalia is also searching out other potential partners.

However, in a statement late on Friday the Italian government said that the country's interests must be safeguarded in any potential deal.

"Alitalia is a strategic asset and ensuring that Italian citizens and the economy are served with domestic, European and intercontinental connections that are efficient and adequate for the growth of the country remain a fundamental objective," it said.

The Gulf airline, which owns sizeable stakes in a number of other carriers including Air Serbia, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Aer Lingus and Virgin Australia, has been provided with access to Alitalia’s accounts and is awaiting the outcome of a union agreement on redundancies.

The Rome-based carrier is seeking a new equity partner after shareholder Air France-KLM Group declined to take part in a capital increase.

An Etihad spokesperson declined to comment on the negotiations when contacted by Arabian Business.

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