(Adds quotes, background)
ROME, July 12 (Reuters) - Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said on Friday he hoped infrastructure group Atlantia would buy a stake in Alitalia, the troubled airline company the government is struggling to rescue.
“I think that Atlantia would be a strong partner,” Tria said in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa. “Atlantia’s involvement (in the rescue plan) would be desirable.”
After meeting on Thursday, Atlantia’s board said it had asked Chief Executive Giovanni Castellucci to look into Alitalia’s industrial plan.
Atlantia is controlled by the Benetton family.
The government has been working for months on a plan to hook up Alitalia with state-owned railway group Ferrovie dello Stato, and also has a commitment from Delta Air Lines to take a stake, but still needs to find another partner.
The ruling coalition made up of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement and the far-right League party has said it wants a deal by Monday.
Relations between 5-Star and Atlantia have been fraught following the deadly collapse last year of a Genoa motorway bridge that was operated by one of its businesses.
5-Star leader and industry minister Luigi Di Maio has threatened to revoke Atlantia’s motorway concession.
But Tria said the government must respect the law.
“Atlantia is controlled by the Benettons but it has also many international funds among its shareholders. Respecting the rules is necessary in order to guarantee all the shareholders,” said Tria, who is an academic with no political affiliation.
The government is also struggling to pull together a rescue plan for Carige, which the troubled Genoa-based bank needs to avoid a liquidation.
Tria signalled confidence in reaching a “positive solution”.
“We are working on a project that I believe has a chance of success,” he said, adding the plan was “essentially a market solution”. (Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri; Writing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Potter)