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Hopes up for Iberia deal

<div>SPANISH flag carrier Iberia appointed Antonio Vazquez as its new chairman and CEO yesterday, boosting hopes of a tie-up with British Airways (BA).<br /><br />Hard-nosed dealmaker Vazquez, who was already involved in the merger talks due to his role as director at Iberia, will kick-start discussions which have become bound up in red tape a year after they were first announced, analysts say.<br /><br />Vazquez oversaw the sale of Spanish tobacco firm Altadis to Britain&rsquo;s Imperial Tobacco in 2007.<br /><br />Earlier this week, reports said Caja Madrid, Iberia&rsquo;s main shareholder, was growing frustrated with stalled talks under departing chairman Fernando Conte.<br /><br />But an Iberia spokesman instead&nbsp;said Conte had told the board at the start of the year that he wanted to step down before he turned 60 in March 2010.<br /><br />Willie Walsh, the chairman of troubled BA, welcomed Vazquez, saying the airline was &ldquo;confident that his business and leadership skills will ensure that the relationship with British Airways will continue to develop.&rdquo;<br /><br />Walsh added: &ldquo;We look forward to working with him on all matters, including the continuing merger discussions.&rdquo;</div>