Alitalia Denies Air France High-Level Talks Report

September 12, 2007

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Alitalia denied on Wednesday an Italian news agency report that it was in high-level talks with Air France-KLM as part of its efforts to find a buyer.

Alitalia's long-time commercial partner Air France-KLM is frequently cited in Italian media as a likely buyer for the airline -- whose privatization flopped in July -- despite repeated denials by the French airline.

Air France-KLM has said it would only be interested if Alitalia turned its business around, but recently added it would listen if approached by the Italians.

Speculation on a possible tie-up between the two has grown since Alitalia unveiled a new plan to survive the next three years, with Italian media saying the plan was largely designed to make the airline more attractive to Air France-KLM.

Citing company sources, the Ansa news agency said talks at the highest level were in progress between the two groups since conditions for a sale had changed following the failed auction of the Italian Treasury's controlling stake in Alitalia.

Alitalia denied the existence of such high-level contacts and said management of both companies met regularly as part of their commercial agreements and their membership of the SkyTeam marketing alliance of airlines.

(Reuters)