By Klaus Lauer and Maria Sheahan
BERLIN (Reuters) – The administrators of insolvent Austrian airline Niki have picked two strategic bidders for final-stage talks over its assets, one administrator said on Friday.
IAG <ICAG.L>, owner of British Airways and budget carrier Vueling, is one of the final bidders selected, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Niki, founded by former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, was part of collapsed Air Berlin.
It filed for insolvency last week after Germany’s Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> backed out of a deal to buy its assets, grounding the fleet and stranding thousands of passengers.
Six parties submitted offers by a Thursday deadline, five of which were binding, Niki administrator Lucas Floether said in a statement, without providing details.
Lauda said on Thursday that he had offered to buy Niki. A spokeswoman for him said on Friday she could not say whether he was among the two remaining bidders.
A German newspaper had also named tour operator Thomas Cook <TCG.L> and Tuifly, the airline of tour operator TUI <TUIT.L>, among the remaining bidders.
Other interested parties include Swiss carrier PrivatAir.
IAG and Thomas Cook declined to comment. TUI was not available for immediate comment.
(Reporting by Klaus Lauer; additional reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Paul Sandle; writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by Arno Schuetze and Jason Neely)