Alitalia releases shortlist of six potential buyers

Alitalia''s board has released a shortlist of six potential buyers following consultation with Citigroup and industry adviser Roland Berger. The list comprises Aeroflot, Air France KLM, AP Holding (Air One), Cordata Baldassarre, Lufthansa and TPG (formerly Texas Pacific Group).

The Italian government wants to sell most of its 49.9% in Alitalia and has asked chairman Maurizio Prato to identify potential buyers after its own sell off efforts failed. Prato was appointed to the post this July,

"The board has resolved to carry out discussions to assess the interest" of the six identified parties, a board communiqué said, adding that it intends "to complete such discussions in the shortest possible time frame."

Even as the influential paper Corriere della Sera reported yesterday that Air France KLM is seeking to acquire an initial 15%-20% stake in the loss-making airline through a share swap and would consider a full integration only if the airline''s earnings improve over the next 2-3 years, the pilots'' union issued a statement saying it would support only bidders who have "the economic resources necessary to back a serious financial plan, an industrial plan for development and above all with managers who have proven their ability to manage a complex company" like Alitalia.