Poste Italiane agrees to put 65 mln euros into Alitalia -sources

MILAN, July 29 Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:40pm EDT

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MILAN, July 29 (Reuters) - Italy's Poste Italiane will invest 65 million euros ($87 million) into troubled flagship carrier Alitalia as part of a deal with banks meant to pave the way for a tie-up with Etihad Airways, two sources close to the matter said on Tuesday.

State-owned Poste already paid 75 million euros for a 20 percent stake in Alitalia last year as part of a 500 million euro government-engineered rescue to keep its planes flying while it searched for a foreign partner to help revamp its ailing network.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad plans to buy 49 percent of Alitalia in a deal Rome hopes will make the loss-making carrier profitable.

Poste Italiane will invest the money into a separate vehicle rather than directly into the airline, allowing it to avoid taking on Alitalia's debt and other liabilities - a condition it insisted on for agreeing to any additional support.

"The Poste will invest 65 million euros in Alitalia, but via a mid-company," one of the sources told Reuters.

The Poste declined to comment, after saying in a statement earlier on Tuesday it had reached a deal in principle with the banks, including Italy's top two lenders Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit which are also key Alitalia shareholders. It said technical details still needed to be finalised.

($1 = 0.7458 Euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Paola Arosio, editing by Isla Binnie)

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