Etihad raises stake in Virgin Australia to 10%

Abu Dhabi airline says it has bought a total of 221 million shares.
NEWS, Aviation


Etihad Airways on Sunday confirmed its equity stake in Virgin Australia Holdings has now reached 10 percent.

This represents 221 million shares which have been bought on the open market over recent months, the Abu Dhabi airline said in a statement.

Six weeks ago Etihad received Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval to increase its holding from 5 percent to 10 percent.

Etihad president and CEO James Hogan said: "We are very pleased to have reached this threshold.

"We support the management strategy of Virgin Australia and will continue to work closely with them on ways to improve our business."

Hogan again reiterated that Etihad Airways wasn't interested in becoming a majority shareholder or taking control of Virgin Australia.

"Our small equity stake reflects the strong working relationship of both airlines and again demonstrates our enduring commitment to the Australian market," he said.

Hogan said he was confident the equity stake would lead to more revenue generating opportunities.

"This further cements our commercial partnership as we continue to explore areas of even closer co-operation such as operational synergies, shared IT infrastructure and other forms of cost sharing efficiency."

Virgin Atlantic is part owned by British billionaire Richard Branson and Air New Zealand.

Etihad is making acquisitions in a bid to compete with larger rivals Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline, which are increasingly challenging European, Asian and Australian carriers on long-haul routes.

The Abu Dhabi carrier in December raised its stake in airberlin, Europe’s sixth-largest airline, from 2.9 percent to 29.2 percent for $95m.

In May, it acquired a three percent stake in the Irish no-frills carrier Aer Lingus and in January bought a 40 percent stake in Air Seychelles.

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