Putin Approves Foreign Superjet Stake

President Vladimir Putin approved the purchase by Alenia Aeronautica of a stake in Sukhoi Civil Aircraft so the Italian company can help the Russian plane maker develop the Superjet airliner.

Alenia, a unit of Finmeccanica, Italy's largest aerospace company, will buy 25 percent plus one share of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the presidential press service said Monday in a statement.

State-run Sukhoi and the Russian government are spending $1.6 billion to develop the 75- to 95-seat planes and expect to sell 1,800 Superjets over the next 20 years, mostly outside of Russia. The aircraft is the centerpiece of a drive to revive the country's aviation industry and is scheduled to enter service in 2008 with carrier Aeroflot.

Rome-based Alenia and Sukhoi agreed last year to set up a joint venture in Italy to promote the jet in European and American markets through marketing and sales.