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Poste Italiane approves 75 million injection for Alitalia

Troubled airline continues to gain support

19 December, 11:34
Poste Italiane approves 75 million injection for Alitalia (ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - The board of directors of Poste Italiane has given the green light for a 75-million euro capital injection for troubled Alitalia, sources said Thursday.

The announcement is likely to renew controversy around what some rival airlines have complained is State aid, an accusation that the Italian government has denied.

It also comes one day after reports that Alitalia is about to get a capital increase of 300 million euros from Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg cited sources close to the deal that it said would make Etihad the majority shareholder of Alitalia, and said the two airlines were scheduled to meet on Thursday. A capital increase was approved in October by Alitalia shareholders as part of a plan to pull the airline back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Alitalia had already been turned down by Air France-KLM. The capital injection from Poste Italiane is part of a government-engineered 500-million-euro rescue package, which also includes 200 million euros in loans.

That prompted International Airlines Group, which owns Spanish carrier Iberia as well as British Airways, to urge the European Commission to intervene to suspend what it said was "flagrant State aid".

Italy's Infrastructure and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi has denied that State aid was involved.

Under the plan, the State-owned post office, Poste Italiane, would buy up to 75 million euros in any unsubscribed shares in the capital increase. Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit would guarantee to take a stake worth up to 100 million euros.

In response to complaints, the European Commission has asked for more information about the rescue package - in particular, the controversial cash injection from Italy's post office.

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