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Alitalia Shortlists Six Bidders for Tentative Talks

Alitalia said on Monday it had shortlisted six possible bidders for a stake in the troubled airline, whose auction by the government flopped in July.

It said the shortlisted investors were: Aeroflot, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, smaller domestic rival Air One, U.S. private equity firm TPG and a consortium led by a former chairman of Italy's constitutional court.

Air One, Aeroflot and TPG all took part in the government's auction process but pulled out, while Air France-KLM and Lufthansa spurned that sale but have since suggested there might be interest if conditions changed.

Alitalia said in a statement its board had decided to "carry out discussions to assess the interest" of these six possible suitors, adding it hoped to complete talks as soon as possible.

A financial source told Reuters all options were still open on what kind of interest the shortlisted candidates might have, adding that parties were not talking specifics at the moment.

An Air France-KLM spokesman was not immediately available to comment. The airline has previously said it would be willing to listen to any proposition Alitalia makes but would not do a deal unless it created value for the airline.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman said a partnership with Alitalia must make sense for both sides, adding the German airline was basically open for possible talks.