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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Backs Bid for Alitalia

ROME -- First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday allayed fears that Aeroflot could withdraw from its bid to buy Italian state airline Alitalia, telling a conference in Rome he backed Aeroflot's interest.

"Personally I have a very positive attitude toward this deal," he said.

"But it must be based on coordinating commercial interests between partners and, as ever, talks are never easy," he said.

The auction for Alitalia looked fragile earlier this week because of concerns that an Aeroflot pullout would leave only one bidder in the shape of domestic Italian airline Air One, whose turnover barely matches Alitalia's losses.

Aeroflot denied a report it was pulling out, but still complained about the price tag.

A senior executive at the airline said earlier this week that the appearance of a new bidder could have an impact on its own plans.

Bidders have been given more time for access to confidential information from Alitalia, with an extension to June 28 from a previous deadline of June 13.

But so far the July 2 deadline for binding offers is unchanged.

Also Wednesday, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo opened its arms to new financial partners in its bidding consortium with Air One, just a day after U.S. private equity firm MatlinPatterson returned to the fray.