Etihad Stakes Claim
Etihad and Alitalia move closer to a deal
Etihad Stakes Claim

 Etihad Airways is close to taking a stake in troubled Italian airline Alitalia.

The two airlines, who began talks last year, released a statement at the weekend saying they are now in the "final phase of a due diligence process".

"During the next 30 days both companies and their advisors will determine how a common strategy can be developed which meets the objectives of both parties, said the statement.

The size of the investment was not disclosed but it has previously been reported that Etihad could take as much as 49%. More recently, reports have put the figure at 40%.

Alitalia has been looking for a partner since Air France-KLM refused to back a €300 million refinancing plan in December.

As a result of not joining the rights issue, Air France-KLM's 25% stake was reduced to 7%.

Etihad already has minority stakes in Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, and Virgin Australia.

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Karen Millen