Business | Sun Jan 6, 2013 5:16pm IST

Air France-KLM in "advanced" talks to buy Alitalia - report

ROME (Reuters) - Franco-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) is in "advanced" talks to take control of Italy's flagship airline Alitalia by the summer, Rome's Messaggero newspaper reported on Sunday without citing its sources.

Alitalia is owned by CAI, a consortium of investors that bought the then-bankrupt airline in 2008. CAI is already partly owned by Air France-KLM. Alitalia's shareholders can exercise options to trade their shares when a lock-up period ends on January 12.

In May, Air France said it would probably wait until at least 2014 before using its option to take control of Alitalia, in which it has held 25 percent since January 2009.

Air France-KLM has offered shareholders a 20 percent premium on what they paid for the airline in 2008, the newspaper said, probably in Air France-KLM shares. CAI paid a little more than 1 billion euros to take over Alitalia five years ago.

Alitalia and Air France-KLM officials were not immediately available for comment.

Alitalia returned to profit in the third quarter after reporting losses in the first half, booking a net profit of 27 million euros, down from 70 million euros a year before.

Net debt rose to 923 million euros at the end of September, up by 61 million euros from the end of June. (Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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