UK-based private equity investment specialist Greybull Capital has expressed an interest in acquiring part of Italian carrier Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino).

As previously reported, Alitalia's bankruptcy administrators have tendered for buy-out proposals that would encompass Alitalia as a complete unit, or bids focusing on the carrier's flight operations (including MRO) and ground handling services as separate entities. Preference will be given to bids targeting the carrier as a whole.

Sources close to the Italian carrier's bankruptcy procedures told Sky News the firm is looking to acquire Alitalia's Engineering & Maintenance (MRO) division which it would then pair with its existing operations at Monarch Aircraft Engineering in the United Kingdom.

Greybull is said to be "less keen" on Alitalia's ground handling operations, which could put it at a disadvantage in a process in which bidders have been told that preference will be given to acquirers of the whole company.

If a bid for the airline as a whole is submitted, Greybull is expected to seek partners for some of Alitalia's short-haul services given the Italian carrier's lack of scale competing against giant rivals such as easyJet (U2, London Luton) and Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l).

Besides Greybull, other private equity firms are expected to submit proposals by September of this year.

Greybull currently owns UK leisure operator Monarch Airlines (ZB, London Luton) which it acquired from founders, the Swiss-Italian Mantegazza family, in October 2014.