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Aeroflot May Raise 1 Billion Euros for Alitalia Bid

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot is prepared to borrow up to 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) to finance a possible bid for Italian airline Alitalia, the company's financial director said on Monday.

Mikhail Poluboyarinov told reporters Aeroflot would decide within the next one to two weeks on whether to accept a renewed invitation to bid for a stake in Alitalia.

"We are not in negotiations with anyone. They invited us to listen to a presentation," Poluboyarinov said. "We listened, took the presentations and are now actively discussing them."

"It will take a week or two, to be honest, for Aeroflot to determine what to do."

Alitalia this month shortlisted six potential bidders in a second attempt to sell the Italian government's 49.9 percent stake in the company. Aeroflot pulled out of the first auction organized by the government, having expressed concern over the asking price and Alitalia's finances.

"We understand that the purchase procedure will be less formalized. It will happen as a result of discussions with companies on the shortlist," Poluboyarinov said.

Other companies on the shortlist include European rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, smaller Italian airline Air One and U.S. private equity firm TPG.

The sixth potential bidder is a consortium advised by legal expert Antonio Baldassarre. Alitalia has said it would start talks with the consortium only after it proved it had the required financial means.

Poluboyarinov did not specify on Monday how much of Alitalia his company was interested in buying. Though Aeroflot was prepared to borrow about 1 billion euros, the official did not say how much Alitalia might cost.

"We asked them first, 'how much do you want?' and they replied, 'how much do you have?"'

Alitalia has a market capitalization of 1.2 billion euros.