ROME Aug 6 Abu Dhabi's Etihad and Italy's post
office operator Poste Italiane are preparing a partnership after
the Gulf airline makes a planned investment in Italy's troubled
flag-carrier Alitalia, a person close to the matter said on
Etihad is due to sign a deal by the end of this week to take
a 49 percent stake in Alitalia, which Italy hopes will turn
around the airline which has made a profit only a few times in
its 68-year history and become a symbol of economic malaise.
Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan met Francesco Caio, head
of Alitalia shareholder Poste Italiane in Rome on Wednesday, the
person close to the matter said, describing the meeting as
The two chief executives discussed possible synergies
relating to ticket sales, holiday insurance policies and
e-commerce, and would meet next week to continue the talks, the
Underscoring the Italian government's enthusiasm to strike a
deal, state-owned Poste Italiane said last week it would invest
70 million euros in Alitalia, its second cash injection into the
airline in less than a year.
A deal between Etihad and Alitalia has been delayed by trade
union opposition to planned job cuts, and wrangles over how to
deal with Alitalia's 800 million euro debt.
Italy's transport minister Maurizio Lupi said last week a
deal would be signed on Aug. 8, when Alitalia shareholders,
which also include top Italian banks UniCredit and
Intesa Sanpaolo, are due to meet.
(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, writing by Isla Binnie, editing
by David Evans)