Air France KLM has said that it is looking at the possibility of trying to buy Spanish airline Iberia. There are newspaper reports that it could bid 3.8 billion euros as part of a consortium with private equity company Apax.
Air France KLM itself would only repeat that it intended to play an active role in the consolidation of the airline industry. It added: “In Europe, Spain is one of the major markets and Iberia an important player in air transport, it is therefore quite normal for it to be examined among others.”
A stumbling block to such a bid is the fact that British Airways owns 9.9% of Iberia and has options to buy another 26.5%. The other big shareholders are Spanish banks Caja Madrid and BBVA and the logistics firm Logista. British Airways is already part of a consortium – led by US private equity firm Texas Pacific Group – which wants to buy Iberia and has made a provisional offer of 3.4 billion euros, but that is less than the current value of the airline’s shares.
Iberia has said Texas Pacific can examine its accounts but only under certain conditions. Airline industry analysts said Iberia has delayed in the hope that rival bidders might appear, which could be what is happening. Germany’s Lufthansa is also interested in Iberia, but has said the cost of a takeover is probably too high.