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Aeroflot, UniCredit only partners in bid for Italy's Alitalia

Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot said Friday there will not be a third partner in its consortium with UniCredit bank to acquire a state-controlled stake in Italy's Alitalia.

„This has been established by the bidding procedure - two participants - and there may not be any changes,” Aeroflot CEO Valery Okulov said. Previously Aeroflot did not rule out a third participant in the consortium. Italy's finance ministry included Aeroflot, which accounts for 39% of Russia's international air traffic and 11% of domestic flights, on the list of bidders for the Alitalia stake.

Aeroflot's bid was backed by Russia's Transportation Ministry. „This acquisition will enable Aeroflot to enter the European market,” Transport Minister Igor Levitin said previously, adding, however, that the asset could be problematic since Alitalia posted a €3.2 billion ($4.31 billion) loss in 1996-2006, including €380 million in 2006. Last fall, the Italian government decided to privatize the airline by selling at least 30.1% of its 49.9% stake. Aeroflot earlier said it had carried 7.29 million passengers in 2006, or 8.7% more than in 2005. (