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Italian consortium withdraws Alitalia takeover bid

The Italian Air Company (CAI), a consortium that proposed to take over Italy's flagship carrier Alitalia, has withdrawn its bid for the stricken airline, thereby pushing the company further down the road to bankruptcy.

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An Italian consortium that proposed to take over Alitalia withdrew its offer Thursday for the stricken Italian flag carrier, dooming it to bankruptcy, a news agency reported.

The Radiocor agency said the Italian Air Company (CAI) consortium pulled out after labour unions failed to accept the takeover plan which would have meant the loss of 3,250 jobs.

The Sky TG 24 news channel also reported that CAI would drop its offer, while the ANSA agency said it was likely, quoting union officials as saying they had been told so unofficially from four sources.

A CAI spokesman refused to either confirm or deny the reports.

Both the consortium and the government had said there could be no more negotiations, and CAI chief Roberto Colaninno said Wednesday that without a union consensus the offer would be withdrawn.

The nine unions were given a deadline of 4 pm (1600 GMT), when the CAI was to meet, to give their response, but only three had accepted in last-ditch talks on Tuesday.

The other six, including the pilots' union and Italy's largest employees' organisation, the CGIL, demanded further talks.

Transport Minister Altero Matteoli warned earlier Thursday, "There is no alternative -- if we don't sign today, we are facing bankruptcy."
  

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