Alitalia cargo operations attract interest from Italian businessmen

Milan (Thomson Financial) - A group of businessmen from central and southern Italy is interested in buying Alitalia SpA's cargo operations, daily Il Sole 24 Ore and other newspapers said on Sunday, citing financier Fabio Verna.

Verna is working with Bruno Ermolli, the businessman mandated by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to create a consortium to take over the ailing carrier.

Separately, daily La Repubblica said, without citing sources, that airline Meridiana could be involved in the rescue of Alitalia along with Air One in an operation that could prevent Alitalia from being broken up.

The paper said a tie-up between Alitalia, Air One and Meridiana is supported by some politicians of the governing coalition and by trade unions. Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, which is advising on Alitalia's sale, is expected to present the strategic options open to Alitalia on June 27, it said.

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