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CEO: Alitalia needs a few weeks to close Etihad deal

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[June 09, 2014]  ROME (Reuters) - Alitalia needs a few weeks to complete a deal with Etihad which could see the Abu Dhabi airline invest 560 million euros ($762.4 million) in its struggling Italian peer, Alitalia chief executive Gabriele del Torchio said on Monday.

"I am confident ... that we will finish the agreements in a few weeks," Del Torchio said in the Senate.

On Friday, Alitalia's board expressed appreciation for Etihad's turnaround plan for the Rome-based carrier, which was kept flying by a government-engineered 500 million euro rescue package last year.

Del Torchio said on Monday that Etihad, which already has stakes in Air Berlin and Aer Lingus was proposing to invest 560 million euros in Alitalia.

Italy's government is keen to find a cash-rich partner for Alitalia, but the process has been delayed by questions over how to deal with the airline's debt, and wrangling over job cuts.($1 = 0.7345 Euros)

(Reporting by Alberto Sisto, writing by Isla Binnie)

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