Airport, China, Investments, Latvia, Transport

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 18.07.2019, 21:05

Chinese airline Hainan Airlines interested in share acquisition in airBaltic

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 13.09.2010.Print version
Hainan Airlines, one of China's largest airlines, is interested in acquiring shares in Latvian national airline airBaltic; unofficial talks are taking place concerning the possibility of selling 48% of airBaltic to the Chinese company, according to yesterday's edition of the TV3 show "Neka personiga" ("Nothing Personal").

After selling 48% of airBaltic shares to Hainan Airlines, the state would be left with 4.7%, and the remaining shares would remain in the possession of airBaltic President Bertolt Flick.

 

Representatives of Hainan Airlines are said to have met with members of the Latvian government in Riga and in Beijing. As yet there have been no clear results to these talks; however, there is said to be significant chance that the Latvian national airline will change hands after the election, according to "Nothing Personal".

 

The show indicated that a letter had come into its possession where an official at the Chinese Embassy in Riga informed state institutions of the visit to Riga of a representative of Hainan Airlines owner HNA group with a view to investigate possible investments in Latvia, and in airBaltic in particular, writes LETA.

 

Economy Minister Artis Kampars and Flick are said to have met with the representative in April this year, although Kampars explained that any investor in airBaltic would be sought through an open tender. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis is also said to have met with high officials of HNA group in Beijing, but the premier denied that any such meeting had taken place.

 

Dombrovskis indicated that the Chinese company could hold talks with Flick, who was free to act as he wished with his shares, but that the state was not currently intending to dispose of its own, especially during the current economic downturn, where share prices were depressed.

 

The Chinese concern HNA group has a value of USD 23 billion, and its subsidiary Hainan Airlines has recently begun expansion into Europe. Riga airport and the rapidly growing airBaltic is of interest to the airline as a transit base in Europe; the deal would result in Latvia gaining direct flights with Beijing, which would further develop economic relations between the two countries.

 

Any such deal could be complicated by the relationship between airBaltic and Flick, as the airline's brand is still under Flick's ownership, and the airline president has right of first refusal on the state's share package.






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