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Italy to press ahead with plans to sell ITA despite MSC snub

ITA Airways presents new fleet of aircraft at Fiumicino airport

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's government will press ahead with plans to sell a majority stake in airline ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Tuesday, after shipping group MSC dropped its interest.

"We are open to anybody who wants to participate in the privatisation," Giorgetti told a news conference, adding ITA Airways's data room is "always open."

The privatisation is proving a headache for the Italian Treasury.

Rome reopened the process at the end of last month after an exclusivity period for talks with U.S. private equity fund Certares, Air France KLM and Delta failed to produce a deal.

Shipping group MSC, which had partnered with German airline Lufthansa earlier this year to bid for ITA, said on Monday it was no longer interested in the transaction.

On the other hand, a Lufthansa spokesman said last week that the German carrier was still interested in buying into ITA.

The Treasury plans to privatise ITA through a direct sale while retaining a minority, non-controlling stake in the initial stage.

Rome this month appointed former Treasury official Antonino Turicchi as chairman of ITA Airways.

Turicchi, who also sat on the board of state-controlled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, took the place of Alfredo Altavilla, who resigned after a clash with several board members over strategy to complete the privatisation of the airline.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Keith Weir)