Berlusconi seeks Alitalia and Air France-KLM tie up

26th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Jan 25 (AFP) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that he wanted to see Alitalia tying up with Air France-KLM once the Italian airline resolves its current financial troubles.

ROME, Jan 25 (AFP) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that he wanted to see Alitalia tying up with Air France-KLM once the Italian airline resolves its current financial troubles.

"Alitalia has its problems to resolve and we will resolve them and we will go in the direction of one big airline company that puts together our two companies," Berlusconi said at a news conference following a Franco-Italian summit.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Alitalia chairman Giancarlo Cimoli said he foresaw stronger links with Air France once Alitalia's results have improved.

"Once the situation from the accounts point of view is more positive, the alliance with KLM and Air France can go forward," he said.

In Paris, Air France-KLM refused to comment on the Alitalia chairman's remarks.

Air France-KLM, which holds a two percent stake in Alitalia, indicated inmid-2004 that it would be willing to acquire the Italian carrier if a restructuring plan rescues it from financial distress.

Alitalia and Air France already have some links, though Alitalia has said it wanted to renegotiate them as part of its restructuring.

The chairman's comments stirred fierce investor interest in Alitalia shares, which closed up 11.69 percent at EUR 0.2675 although brokers said a merger was not for the short-term given the Italian company's financial difficulties.

Alitalia's restructuring plans are currently being investigated by the European Commission under state aid rules.

The Italian company, in which the Italian government holds a 62.39 percent stake, has long been seeking a merger partner but has so far has been turned down by potential suitors.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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