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Talks with Aeroflot on Alitalia acquisition could be resumed

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"All options are being considered as long as Alitalia remains the national air carrier, and decisions are made in Italy," Berlusconi told journalists shortly before a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sardinia.
ROME, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Italy's prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi is not ruling out that talks with Russian air carrier Aeroflot to buy state-run Alitalia, stalled in November, could be resumed.

"All options are being considered as long as Alitalia remains the national air carrier, and decisions are made in Italy," Berlusconi told journalists shortly before a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sardinia.

Putin, now in the final weeks of his presidency, arrived in Sardinia Thursday evening to meet with Berlusconi.

During the Italian billionaire's second term as premier in 2001-2006, the two met on numerous occasions, and Berlusconi was seen as Putin's key ally in Europe.

Alitalia's losses in 2006 were 380 million euros ($604 million). The strategic investor the Italian authorities are looking for will have to implement a rescue plan for the carrier.

During the tender to buy a state-held package in the Italian air carrier, the previous Alitalia management preferred a bid by Air France-KLM, but in March the talks were suspended.

The Italian press Wednesday carried reports that with Berlusconi returning to power, talks could be resumed. Aeroflot was unavailable for comment.

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