British Airways and Iberia sign merger deal

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Friday, April 9, 2010

An Iberia Airbus A321-200
Image: Adrian Pingstone.
A British Airways Airbus A321-200
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

British Airways (BA) and the Spanish airline Iberia have signed a merger deal, which will create one of the largest air carrier groups in the world.

The two announced the merger yesterday, and said that the deal, which has been expected for a long time, is to be implemented by the end of 2010. The move will make a group with a market value of US$8 billion. The deal has been negotiated since July 2008.

Under the plan, both companies keep their own brands and operations, but will be owned by International Airlines Group, a new holding company. It will be listed in London, but taxed in Spain.

The airlines believe the merger will save $530 million annually. In February, BA reported a loss of $102.4 million for the final three quarters of 2009, whilst Iberia posted an operating loss of $629 million.

Meanwhile, investors in BA will receive an IAG share for every BA share they own, and stockholders in Iberia 1.0205 shares for each share in the Spanish airline; thus, BA shareholders will take 55% of IAG.

"The merged company will provide customers with a larger combined network," commented BA chief executive Willie Walsh. "It will also have greater potential for further growth by optimising the dual hubs of London and Madrid and providing continued investment in new products and services."

Meanwhile, Iberia chief executive Antonio Vázquez remarked: "This is an important step in creating one of the world's leading global airlines that will be better equipped to compete with other major airlines and participate in future industry consolidation."

Independent aviation specialist James Halstead said he believed the merger was necessary for BA to remain competitive amongst other European air carriers. "BA's unique position at Heathrow could help it survive for a short while, but in the long run it needs more than just Heathrow. The main point of the Iberia deal is to be able to cut costs and put the combined company in the position that Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are already in," he said, quoted by The Independent.


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