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Air France denies involvement in bid to take over Alitalia

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An Air France Boeing 787-9 scale model is seen in Paris

An Air France Boeing 787-9 scale model is seen in Paris, France January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France <AIRF.PA> on Saturday denied that it had made an offer to buy the struggling airline Alitalia, a day after an Italian government minister said the French flag carrier had made a joint bid with budget airline EasyJet <EZJ.L>.

Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda on Friday said separate offers had been presented by U.S. private equity fund Cerberus and Germany's Lufthansa <LHAG.DE>, as well as a joint Air France-EasyJet bid.

But in a statement, Air France said it had not taken part in the process launched by the Italian authorities.

"Air France-KLM denies having made an offer to take over Alitalia," Air France said in a statement.

Heavily indebted Alitalia, which has only turned a profit a few times in its 70-year history, was put under special administration last year after its staff rejected a plan to cut jobs and salaries.

(Reporting by Richard Lough and Cyril Altmeyer, Editing by Ros Russell)