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Norwegian Air rises sharply on report of renewed IAG interest

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Norwegian Air rises sharply on report of renewed IAG interest
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OSLO (Reuters) – Shares in Norwegian Air <NWC.OL> soared on Tuesday as investors reacted to a report of renewed interest in the budget carrier from British Airways-owner IAG <ICAG.L>.

Norwegian’s share price rose 11 percent in early trade to 278 crowns in Oslo after Spanish newspaper Expansion on Monday said IAG is preparing to bid 330 crowns per share for the Oslo-listed airline, citing unnamed sources.

“What we can say, is that it’s business as usual for us, we’re expanding rapidly and sales are good. We can’t comment on the ownership situation,” Tore Oestby, Norwegian Air’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Development, told Reuters.

“Our crystal clear focus is on the purely operational, and to work on costs and efficiencies,” he added.

IAG last month disclosed it had bought a 4.6 percent stake in Norwegian, but the budget carrier later said it had rejected two takeover proposals.

On May 18, IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh told Reuters that Norwegian Air was not a must-have deal, and ruled out making a hostile offer.

By 0730 GMT, Norwegian Air’s shares traded at 268.6 crowns, up 7.3 percent. The Oslo stock market had been shut for a public holiday on Monday, delaying the share price reaction to the Expansion story.

IAG’s brands include Spanish airline Iberia.

(Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord, writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Keith Weir)

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