(Adds more from statement, incorporates UniCredit stand)
ROME May 12 The Italian government, banks and
Alitalia shareholders agreed on Monday that talks should
continue with Gulf-based airline Etihad over a potential
link-up, a government statement said.
The statement, issued after a two-hour meeting and
conference call, said a deal with Etihad would be a significant
opportunity for Alitalia and for Italy. Participants discussed
the state of the negotiations and Etihad's requests.
The government said it urged Alitalia management to continue
the talks, adding that more meetings would take place between
the two airlines in the next few days.
Earlier, Federico Ghizzoni, the CEO of Italy's top lender
UniCredit, said the bank was prepared to do what it
could to help Alitalia but there were limits. UniCredit is one
of the airline's creditor banks, along with Intesa Sanpaolo
and Banca Popolare di Sondrio.
Alitalia and its creditors are looking to finalise a
proposal aimed at persuading Etihad to invest in the loss-making
Italian carrier. But talks have stalled on the restructuring of
Alitalia's debt and staff level issues.
The government was represented by cabinet undersecretary
Graziano Delrio, Fabrizio Pagani, a senior member of the Economy
Ministry and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi.
Alitalia was represented by CEO Gabriele Del Torchio and
chairman Roberto Colaninno. Several representatives of the banks
(Reporting By Francesca Piscioneri, writing by Philip Pullella;
editing by David Evans)