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Alitalia to be put up for sale in its entirety says govt

BUSINESS
Alitalia to be put up for sale in its entirety says govt

Italy's failing flagship airline Alitalia will go on sale in two weeks time in a bid to find a buyer and prevent liquidation, Italy's economic development minister Carlo Calenda said on Wednesday.

“Within 15 days the commissioners will be open to expressions of interest,” Calenda told Italian public radio on Tuesday.

“For us the priority is the sale of the whole company,” he told Radio Anch'io in an interview.

Calenda did not rule out the Italian state holding a future stake in the airline.

“Any idea is welcome, but the important thing to bear in mind is that Alitalia needs an alliance with a big European group,” Calenda said.

“The problem is that its scale is too small.”

With Alitalia losing around a million euros a day, finding a buyer will be a tough challenge, according to analysts.

In an interview with public broadcaster Rai on Wednesday, Italy's infrastucture and transport minister Graziano Delrio warned of possible "drastic" cuts to Alitalia in the event that a buyer is found for the airline

The Italian cabinet on Tuesday approved a 600 million euro bridging loan to Alitalia for a maximum period of six months, until a buyer is found or a decision is taken to liquidate the company.

The cabinet also named managers Luigi Gubitosi and Enrico Laghi and air transport expert Stefano Paleari as the commissioners to handle Alitalia's complex bankruptcy proceedings.

Speaking after Tuesady's cabinet meeting, Italy's centre-left premier Paolo Gentiloni repeated that Alitalia would not be nationalised following its workers' rejection last week of a restructuring plan to keep the airline in business.

Alitalia announced it was making a formal request to enter administration proceedings earlier on Tuesday after a shareholder meeting unanimously agreed to take the step.

The airline has said its flight schedule remains unchanged.

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