Aeroflot pulls out of bidding for stake in Alitalia

Russian Aeroflot announced Wednesday that had withdrawn from the bidding to buy a large stake in Italy's Alitalia SpA.

"Aeroflot and its advisers have not had access to critical information with respect to the commercial and operational aspects of Alitalia's business," the company said in a statement.

Under the terms of the competition, the buyer of the 49.9 percent stake would have to shoulder Alitalia's debt, which totaled more than EUR1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in December. That could put a heavy burden on the Russian company, which announced billion-dollar deals with Airbus and Boeing Co. in the past month.

Russia's biggest carrier said that it was still committed to expansion on the European market "by increasing its operational activities as well as acquiring strategic assets."

The announcement appears to open the way for AP Holding SpA, the parent company of Italy's second largest carrier, Air One, to buy the stake.