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Russia's Aeroflot enters race for Alitalia

Russia's Aeroflot has joined the race for troubled Italian carrier Alitalia as the deadline for prospective bidders planning to take part in the company's privatization expired Monday.

In a statement, the Italian Treasury said Aeroflot had paired up with Unicredit, Italy's largest bank. The ministry also announced that two other bidders - United States private equity fund Texas Pacific Group and MatlinPatterson Global Advisers - had joined forces, reducing the total number of bidders entering the next stage to three. Rival Italian airline AirOne, backed by Intesa-San Paolo bank, is the other bidder. The shortlisted concerns must now submit a preliminary non-binding offers for Alitalia by April 16. The Treasury is planning to complete the privatization of Alitalia by selling at least 39.9% of its 49.9% stake in the loss-making carrier. Alitalia shares were up nearly nine per cent during late afternoon trading in Milan. (