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Italian Treasury may sell full stake in national carrier Alitalia

Italian Treasury said Tuesday that it may sell its full 49.9% stake in national carrier Alitalia under the right conditions.

Until now the Treasury had said it would retain no more than 10% of the airline, according to the local media reports. In a letter to the three remaining bidders for Alitalia, the Economy Ministry explained it would sell the 10% should such a request come from the future buyer as part of their proposed business plan, the reports said. In its letter, the Treasury letter set down the guidelines and conditions for presenting formal, binding bids for a majority state in Alitalia.

The three remaining bidders: Aeroflot Russian Airlines, together with Italy's biggest bank UniCredit, the private equity funds Matlin Patterson and Texas Pacific Group (TGP), and AP Holding led by Carlo Toto, chairman of Italy's second-biggest airline AirOne. In its letter, the Treasury said it was not opposed to bidders being jointed by other, minority partners and that these must be indicated in the formal bid. The bids must be presented to the Treasury by July 2 and bidders will be given access to company records starting May 24. The Italian carrier has not posted an operating profit since 1998 and accumulated losses of €380 million ($511.7 million) last year, almost twice the amount it had predicted, reports said. Its net debt currently stands at more than €1.1 billion. ($1.48 billion) (