Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lufthansa and Etihad airlines negotiate merger, says paper

Milan (Reuters)-Germany''s Lufthansa and Etihad Airways are negotiating a possible merger, published the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero on Tuesday citing sources (17), pushing the shares of German airline.
According to the newspaper, the executives of the two companies have been meeting for weeks to analyze the possibility of Etihad to buy a slice of 30% to 40% on Lufthansa through the sale of new shares to the state airline of Abu Dhabi.
In a second step, the two companies would try a total merger, said the paper, adding that the parties will meet soon to speed up the negotiations.
A combination would have impact on Italian debt-ridden Alitalia, in which the Etihad has 49% of the capital and is in the midst of a major restructuring that must include job cuts and reduction of the aircraft fleet.
Lufthansa and Etihad refused to comment on what they described as "speculation".
Shares of Lufthansa rose up to 6% on Tuesday.
Lufthansa and Etihad signed last month an agreement on sharing of flights after Lufthansa hit the 38 aircraft leasing of Air Berlin, which has the Etihad as a partner.
Analysts reacted with skepticism to the news, citing foreign ownership rules on international traffic rights and questioned potential benefits for Lufthansa.
In Europe, a must be controlled by air European Union investors to hold traffic rights under international agreements.
Lufthansa today has nearly 69% of the share capital in the hands of German investors, 13% in the hands of Americans and other 9% of investors of other nationalities.
In addition, if Etihad want to buy more than 30% of the Lufthansa would have to make a public bid for the entire company according to German law.
The local rival Etihad, Qatar, bought 20% of the IAG, owner of British Airways. It has high connections between airlines of Europe and Asia-Pacific. But Credit Suisse said that Lufthansa already has joint ventures with Singapore Airlines, Air China and All Nippon that cover the region.
Previously, public reports have been that Italian Alitalia shareholders are eager for Lufthansa to invest in Italian air force, as well as speculation that Lufthansa can increase the slice on Air Berlin. But executives at Lufthansa have repeatedly in recent weeks that are busy with the operational integration of Air Berlin aircraft, and in assuming the Brussels Airlines.
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