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Emirates 'not bidding for any airline'

Dubai, September 27, 2007

Emirates is not bidding for any airline, a spokesman said after newspapers said the airline could be interested in buying Alitalia shares.

Alitalia shares have been put on sale by Italy's Treasury.

"We are not bidding for any airline," Emirates spokesman Mike Simon said.

Without citing sources, three Italian newspapers including Il Sole 24 Ore and Il Messaggero said Emirates may invest in Alitalia along with a group of African banks, US and Chinese funds as well as an Italian partner.

Financial daily MF had said Emirates could take a five percent stake in troubled Alitalia, which has begun a fresh hunt for a suitor to resuscitate it after an auction for the Italian government's controlling stake collapsed in July.

Alitalia has had initial meetings with potential suitors and unveiled a new three-year survival plan to keep it afloat while the search for a buyer continues.

Alitalia chairman Maurizio Prato said this week the airline was in a "comatose" state and cannot repay over 1 billion euros ($1.41 billion) in debt due in the next three years.

Prato said the airline is touching base with the major European carriers, big North American airlines, airlines from the United Arab Emirates and those that took part in the collapsed auction as part of its renewed bid to find a buyer.

No clear front-runners have emerged so far, although small domestic rival Air One has expressed interest and had a meeting with Alitalia's sale adviser last week.- Reuters    




Tags: Airline | Emirates | Alitalia |

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