Italy says Venice airport must remain in Italian hands

ROME/MILAN, Sept 12 Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:34pm EDT

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ROME/MILAN, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Italian prime minister Enrico Letta said the Venice airport, operated by Save , must remain in Italian hands following a press report that German airport company Fraport was eyeing a stake.

Save, which has a market capitalisation of around $1 billion, runs Venice's Marco Polo airport. It also operates the airport of Treviso, which is about 30 km (19 miles) away from the tourist-packed lagoon city.

"It must remain Italian," Letta said on Thursday after a trilateral meeting with Slovenia and Croatia in Venice, where he said a possible involvement of the Venice airport in the privatisation of airports in Slovenia was discussed.

Earlier on Thursday a source close to the matter confirmed a press report which said Fraport had mandated Mediobanca to explore whether Generali and Morgan Stanley would sell their stakes in Save.

The Italian insurer and the U.S. bank jointly with financial services company Finanziaria Internazionale control 40 percent of Save through a shell company.

Generali and Morgan Stanley's indirect stakes in Save amount to around 13 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

A Fraport spokesman said the company would not comment on market speculation. (Reporting by Massimo Gaia in Milan and Paolo Biondi in Rome, additional reporting by Marilyn Gerlach in Frankfurt)

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