Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

IAG acquires 4.61% stake in Norwegian in 'attractive investment'

Norwegian Air crew celebrate receiving an award Norwegian Air crew celebrate receiving an award
Kelvin Reese | 13 April, 2018, 01:26

Just days after Norwegian Air put its plans for transatlantic flights out of Canada on hold, comes word that British Airways' parent IAG could be looking to buy the airline.

Shares in Norwegian, a stock which this year has been pounded over worries about its profitability, surged 37% on the news.

IAG was formed from a merger of BA and Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier, in 2011 and has already grown over the past three years following a number of buy-outs.

As well as British Airways, Anglo-Spanish firm IAG also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.

A move for Norwegian underlines...

Norwegian's shares shot 47 percent higher at one point before descending to 38 percent gain on the Oslo stock exchange.

The budget airline is trying to crack the transatlantic market by undercutting established rivals but faces pressures to control costs and shore up its balance sheet.

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Bernstein analysts said a full takeover could be expensive but suggested a partnership deal would benefit both parties. March also saw low-priced subsidiary LEVEL begin a new route from Barcelona to Boston, and in July the airline will start operations from Paris-Orly to Montreal, New York (Newark), Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Highlighting the hard state of Norwegian's finances, the airline last month raised $168 million in a share sale after warning of a larger than expected first-quarter loss.

"Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest worldwide aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth".

IAG has taken a 5pc stake in Norwegian with a view to launching a full takeover bid.

IAG said in a statement it considered Norwegian to be an "attractive investment".

The acquisition of the stake "suggests that IAG feels that there is an opportunity here given the level of the share price, or it could simply be keeping its options open in the event of further difficulties" with Norwegian, said Hewson.

Norwegian Air carries over 30 million passengers a year and last year struck an agreement so easyJet customers could access its long-haul routes.

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