Qatar Airways has lifted its stake in International Airlines Group (IAG) which owns British Airways, Iberia, and most of Aer Lingus and Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling.
Qatar has raised its share ownership from 15.67 percent to 20.01 percent but said it will not be buying any more. It is now the largest single stockholder in IAG.
The IAG shares – which cost about 375 million pounds (444 million euros) – are a bargain having lost about a quarter of their value since Britain voted in June to leave the EU.
They are also cheaper for overseas buyers since that vote due to the pound’s big devaluation.
“The recent market valuation of one of the world’s leading airline groups has provided what we believe is an attractive opportunity to increase our shareholding in IAG,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker in a statement.
Qatar Airways says its interest is purely financial, but the investment also reflects the strength of the commercial and strategic ties between the two companies.
Al Baker has in the past said the company wanted to tap into IAG’s extensive American network through the tie-up.
Qatar Airways has taking stakes in other airlines in recent months. It agreed in July to acquire up to 10 percent of Chile-based LATAM Airlines, which is the biggest carrier in Latin America, and 49 percent of Italy’s Meridiana.