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Cerberus eyes Alitalia investment: report

Cerberus Capital Management is allegedly considering an investment in Alitalia, according to a report by the Financial Times.

The US-based asset manager is looking at purchasing Alitalia if the airline can be "comprehensively restructured", the FT reported, citing an anonymous source.

The article adds that Cerberus is considering an investment between €100 million ($118 million) and €400 million to gain control of the Italian airline. The restructuring plan would allow "the Italian government to retain a stake in the airline, while trade unions would benefit from some form of 'profit sharing' in the Cerberus scheme", reports the FT.

A stake in Alitalia would not be Cerberus's first foray into aviation. The New York-based private equity firm tried to gain a stake in Air Canada during its restructuring in 2003. The deal was hotly contested and Victor Li, Li Ka-shing's son, won a 31% shareholding in the carrier – a deal which ultimately broke down too.

In 2005, Cerberus became the equity investor in Amsterdam-based Debis AirFinance, which it renamed AerCap (now the largest aircraft leasing company in the world by portfolio value, according to FlightGlobal data). When AerCap went public in 2006 Cerberus was said by The New York Times to have quintupled its original investment. The firm fully exited its position in AerCap in 2013 when it sold 8.2 million shares.

Cerberus did not return requests for comment.

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