Alitalia to get 700-800 million euros

Alitalia will receive a capital injection of 700 million (554 million pounds) to 800 million euros from Italian businessmen as part of a plan to save the ailing carrier, newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Sunday.

The paper, without citing sources, said some 10 businessmen would take part in the rescue plan being drawn up by the government-appointed adviser, bank Intesa Sanpaolo , but did not name them.

It said the plan included around 5,000-6,000 job cuts and aimed to make Alitalia a stronger player on the domestic market, with turnover of 4 billion euros ($6.28 billion).

A spokesman for Intesa Sanpaolo declined to comment.

Italian newspapers have cited at least 4,000 to 5,000 planned job cuts at Alitalia but Intesa Sanpaolo's Chief Executive Corrado Passera has said the figures were "premature."

The bank is due to draw up a rescue plan by early next month for the state-controlled airline that lost 495 million euros last year. Corriere said the plan should be ready around mid-August and that it was still unclear whether Intesa Sanpaolo would itself take a stake in the airline.

Financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore also reported the plan could be ready by mid-August and said the threshold level for investors would be between 50 million and 100 million euros, without citing sources. It said job cuts could be between 8,000 and 10,000.

Corriere said a change in an Italian law regarding financial failure would be needed for the plan to work.

Alitalia is being kept alive by a 300 million euro emergency loan from the Italian government. The loan is being investigated by the European Commission to determine whether it breaks rules on state aid.

An initial auction to buy the state's 49.9 percent stake in the airline collapsed in 2007 when all the bidders pulled out. A planned sale to Air France-KLM also fell through earlier this year after unions rejected proposed job cuts.

Smaller domestic rival Air One, which had its previous bid for Alitalia rejected by the carrier in favour of one made by Air France-KLM, would not put in money but would be involved in the rescue plan by ceding airport slots and planes, Corriere said.

It added Alitalia would refocus its operations at Milan's Malpensa airport, where it decided to cut flights earlier this year as part of a restructuring plan it drew up last year to reduce losses, AP reported.

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