Etihad CEO says near finalising next stage of Air Berlin partnership

ABU DHABI, April 7 Mon Apr 7, 2014 2:11am EDT

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ABU DHABI, April 7 (Reuters) - Etihad Airways' chief executive said on Monday that the airline was close to sealing the next phase of its partnership with Air Berlin and that it was still in due diligence over a possible tie-up with Alitalia.

"All our objectives have been met and we are in the final stages of negotiating the next stage of that (Air Berlin) partnership," James Hogan told an aerospace conference in Abu Dhabi, without elaborating.

German media reports last month said the United Arab Emirates-based airline could increase its stake in the struggling German carrier to 49.9 percent from the current 30 percent.

Etihad has also been studying a possible investment in Italian carrier Alitalia in recent months, but the CEO said on Monday that this process was still ongoing.

"We are in due diligence at the moment. The mandate we have from shareholders is if we can achieve an agreement that meets the commercial mandate, we'll come back and present that to the board. That's where we are at the moment," Hogan said. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho and Praveen Menon; Writing by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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