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Alitalia raises less than two-thirds of cash call

Scale models of Alitalia airplanes are displayed at a shop selling models of vehicles in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Scale models of Alitalia airplanes are displayed at a shop selling models of vehicles in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian airline Alitalia received less than two thirds of the 300 million euros ($407 million) it was seeking in an emergency cash call and said it expects to raise the rest from the state-owned postal service and other investors.

The cash, part of a bigger rescue package engineered by the government, is seen as a stopgap measure giving loss-making Alitalia a few months to find a strategic investor to help revamp the group and keep it flying.

Alitalia said on Thursday that it had received 173 million euros by the deadline for existing shareholders to subscribe to its rights issue, including guarantee payments made by Italy's two largest banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit .

It expects to sell the rest of the shares in a second phase. Italy's state-owned postal service, which the government brought into the rescue plan last month, will invest 75 million euros and the airline hopes to convince other investors to stump up the remainder.

"Given the information received to date and taking into account subscription commitments already made, the company believes that the conditions exist for the capital increase to be fully covered," Alitalia said.

Top shareholder Air France-KLM , with a 25 percent stake, refused to take up its share of the cash call, saying Alitalia's new business plan pledging severe cost cuts was not enough to save the stricken Italian carrier without its creditors writing off some of its huge debts.

Air France-KLM's decision to walk away from the cash call and have its stake diluted to 7 percent raises uncertainty over Alitalia's future. The Franco-Dutch group has so far been seen as the most suitable carrier to come to Alitalia's rescue.

Analysts said Air France-KLM could still revive its interest in Alitalia via a takeover offer next year, but only if Alitalia manages to free itself of some of its debt.

Apart from Air France-KLM, Alitalia is currently owned by a disparate group of 21 investors including bank Intesa and highway operator Atlantia .

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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