Alitalia sale postponed until end-October

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Rome, April 27 (IANS/AKI) The deadline for the sale of bankrupt flagship airline Alitalia has been extended until “the end of October” under a decree approved by the Italian cabinet on Thursday, Industry Minister Carlo Calenda said.

The decree also extended until mid-December the deadline for the return of a 900 million euro bridging loan made by the government to Alitalia to keep airline aloft, Calenda told reporters after the cabinet meeting. The loan may flout competition rules for being too large and having too long a duration, the European Union said earlier this week.

The extension of the deadline to sell Alitalia owed to the political vacuum in Italy since the inconclusive March 4 national election and was “right and inevitable,” Calenda said.

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“It is right and inevitable that a new government be the interlocutor for investors.

“It is clear that it is necessary to enter into a closer period of negotiation which requires a government that can express its position,” he said.

“The investors need the chance to dialogue with the new government.”

The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the populist Five-Star Movement – Italy’s biggest party – said this week they were ready to start talks on a coalition government after consultations on a tie-up between Five-Star and the centre-right – the largest parliamentary bloc – collapsed.

Italy has been under a caretaker centre-left government since last month’s election. The PD had ruled Italy since 2013 but the centre-left coalition came a poor third in the ballot as voters snubbed it over immigration fears and frustration and the country’s sluggish economy.

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–IANS/AKI

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