The Italian companys board, which loses its veto over investments on Oct. 28, will meet Sept. 26 to study plans to raise cash that might entail a capital increase involving Air France, a second person said. Both asked not to be named since talks are private. For Air France-KLM, already Alitalia s biggest shareholder, taking full control of its Skyteam alliance partner would help lock in access to one of Europes largest aviation markets. Counting against a purchase are the Italian companys mounting losses and Air Frances focus on reviving short-haul operations, which might make a deal involving a third-party such as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC more likely, according to Donal ONeill, an aviation analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin. There would be some sense in Air France looking to increase their holding together with Etihad, said ONeill, who has a hold rating on Air France-KLM, Europes biggest airline. Air France by itself isnt exactly flush with cash at the moment and Etihad has aspirations to grow in Europe. Asian Links Air France-KLM spokesman Cedric Leurquin declined to comment on Alitalia and said he couldnt immediately confirm the date of the next board meeting. A representative of Rome-based Alitalia, where losses quadrupled to 280 million euros in 2012, declined to comment. Etihad, the third-biggest Gulf carrier, has been an ally of Air France since a pact in 2012, and may be a potential Alitalia investor after taking stakes in European operators including Air Berlin Plc (AB1) and Aer Lingus Group Plc. A tie-up would enhance Italy s connections with Asia via Abu Dhabi, complementing links to the west through Air France-KLM bases in Paris and Amsterdam. Italys infrastructure and transport minister, Maurizio Lupi, will also meet with his French counterpart on Sept. 26 to discuss the situation, he said yesterday at an event in Rome . Ill meet the French minister and Ill be clear about the fact that Alitalia is a strategic asset for our country and that finding an international partner is essential, Lupi said.
Second-seeded Simon defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 7-6 (2) to stay on course for his first title of the year. Tsonga’s playing in his first tournament since a knee injury forced him to drop out of his second-round match at Wimbledon. It’s his first final since winning the Open 13 in Marseille in February. Just like in Friday’s quarterfinals, Tsonga took time to find his range and dropped the first set. He looked leg-weary and was broken in his first service game, then struggled to hold his next game as Mayer pinned him to the back of the court with his looped returns. “It’s thanks to the fans that I managed to hang in there and also because Florian Mayer has a little bit of a weakness in terms of endurance,” Tsonga said. “It will be a different matter against Gilles. I noticed that he is playing very well.” Tsonga leads Simon 5-2 overall. All of Tsonga’s titles have been on hard courts, half of Simon’s on clay. Tsonga started the second set aggressively and Mayer had to save two break points early on. In the fifth game, Tsonga paused before serving and then squatted down as if to test the flexibility of his knees. He drew Mayer to the net on the next point and lobbed him to force another break point, which Mayer saved with a forehand pass. Mayer saved another chance on his serve, but Tsonga finally broke him when he returned a weak second serve with a thumping forehand.
France’s Hollande says to meet Iranian president next week
“There is a plan to meet with the Iranian president at his request,” Hollande told reporters before leaving Bamako, where he was attending a ceremony to mark the swearing-in of Mali’s new president. Hollande would be the first Western leader of the P5+1 nations – United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – to meet Rouhani, although the White House said on Thursday it was possible that President Barack Obama could meet Rouhani in New York if Tehran signaled it was serious about giving up its nuclear program. “We should not slam the door on him. We need to see what is behind the words and things will be judged on the acts. The meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly will enable us to establish what the Iranian intentions are,” said a French diplomatic source. Hollande, who will be the first French president to meet an Iranian president since 2005 when Jacques Chirac met Mohammad Khatami in Paris, is due to attend the U.N. meeting on September 24. France’s foreign minister is also scheduled to meet his Iranian counterpart, the first time foreign ministers of the countries have met since September 2011. The United States and its western allies believe Iran is working towards developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at power production.