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Berlusconi suggests Lufthansa could be Alitalia partner

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that a partnership with Lufthansa may help save ailing Alitalia, but repeated that the airline company would remain Italian controlled.

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German flag carrier Lufthansa could be a partner for a restructured Alitalia, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday as talks continued with unions on saving the near bankrupt airline.

"The new Alitalia will be able to establish alliances with international companies ... and I can tell you, we are looking in the direction of Lufthansa," Berlusconi said in an ANSA news agency report.

"At the same time, any interested foreign airline will only be able to take a minority stake (in Alitalia)," Berlusconi added, repeating a standard position that the new company must remain Italian controlled.

Air France-KLM, spurned as an outright buyer of Alitalia earlier this year, has also been named as a possible partner and has said it would be interested in taking a minority stake.

Air France-KLM already holds a 2% interest in the Italian airline.

Alitalia, in which the Italian state has a 49.9% interest, has been surviving on a loan of 300 million euros made in April from public funds after the collapse of the talks with Air France-KLM.

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