Saudi Air inks deal with French catering company

March 22- Saudi Airlines has signed a deal with an affiliate of French investment bank Calyon to advise on an initial public offering of its catering company, it was learnt on Sunday.

The airline, one of the Middle East's largest carriers, launched a gradual privatization of its catering, cargo, maintenance, ground services and aviation services units to pave the way for a flotation of a stake in its core transport unit. In October, an airline official indicated that the IPO offering 30 percent of the catering unit would be held around the third quarter of 2010.

In July, a committee of Saudi Arabia's advisory Shura Council recommended an IPO for the airline, instead of selling off its units piecemeal. The airline has already sold to private investors a 49 per cent stake in the catering unit and 30 per cent of its cargo unit.

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