Etihad chief says will not be rushed on Alitalia decision

Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:05am EST
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By Victoria Bryan

BERLIN (Reuters) - Etihad will not be rushed into making a decision over an investment in struggling Italian airline Alitalia CAITLA.UL, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi-based airline said on Monday.

"There are no plans to make any announcement at the end of this month," James Hogan told journalists at an event with Air Berlin in the German capital.

Alitalia is in talks with Etihad, which sources close to the matter have told Reuters is willing to take a large stake. An Italian newspaper reported last week that Etihad could present an offer as early as this week.

"What is important in any transaction is that you undertake your due diligence and ensure if you are going to invest, there is a clear plan to move to profitability. We will not be rushed into making a decision," Hogan said.

After buying a 29 percent stake in Air Berlin (AB1.DE: Quote), Germany's second-largest airline, in 2011, Etihad has taken stakes in airlines across the world and Hogan said Etihad would continue this strategy.

"Global reach is beyond the capacity of any single airline," Hogan said.

Along with Air Berlin, Etihad also owns stakes in Air Serbia, Aer Lingus AERL.I, Darwin Airlines, Virgin Australia, Jet Airways and Air Seychelles.

Hogan said, though, that Etihad was not looking at investing in Poland's LOT LOT.UL or Latvia's Air Baltic, as recently suggested by analysts. Nor was Etihad planning to take a stake in Rome's Fiumicino airport, he added.   Continued...

An Alitalia plane approaches to land at Fiumicino international airport in Rome December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi