Etihad and Alitalia edge closer to deal

Airlines enter final phase of due diligence process

Etihad Airways and Alitalia confirmed on Sunday that they had entered the final phase of a due diligence process about a possible investment in the beleaguered Italian carrier.

During the next 30 days, both companies and their advisors will determine how a common strategy can be developed that meets the objectives of both parties.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, on a visit to Abu Dhabi to encourage investment in Italy, said he had high hopes for a deal. He added that he was “flexible” on the possibility of a change in Alitalia’s management.

Alitalia and Etihad have been in talks for several weeks. An investment could involve Etihad buying a 40% stake for €300 million, sources close to the talks say.

Alitalia carries 25 million passengers a year and provides access to Europe’s fourth-biggest travel market. But it has a net debt of more than €800 million and is losing around €700,000 every day.