February 7, 2014 / 1:06 PM / 3 years ago

Alitalia, Etihad meet with banks as due diligence intensifies

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VERONA, Italy, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Etihad Airways and Alitalia's creditors have held talks ahead of a potential investment in the troubled Italian carrier by the Abu Dhabi-based group, the CEO of Italy's largest bank by assets UniCredit said on Friday.

Alitalia's debt and additional cost cuts are likely to be the main topics of negotiations between the two airlines which said they were in the final phase of due diligence for a possible investment that could help make Alitalia profitable again.

UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni said meetings with banks and the airlines had already happened in Rome this week.

"I'm pretty confident that a solution will be found," Ghizzoni told journalists on the sidelines of an event in Verona.

Asked if debt restructuring was on the agenda of the meetings, Ghizzoni said: "We are not talking about debt restructuring, but how to move forward the relationship with the banks in case Etihad becomes an Alitalia shareholder."

The banks exposed to Alitalia's debt include Italy's two top lenders UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Banca Popolare di Sondrio. (Reporting by Eliza Anzolin, writing by Agnieszka Flak)

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