The North Atlantic market could be i for another shake-up, as reports have emerged that Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines are working together to examine the potential of launching a bid for Virgin Atlantic. The two Skyteam carriers have reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to advise on a bid.
Virgin Atlantic did not comment directly on any bid from the carriers, but stated it was not surprised that there was interest in it. Rumours of interest in the carrier from airlines in the Middle East have also surfaced this year.
In Jan-2011, Virgin Atlantic Airways founder and President Sir Richard Branson stated the carrier plans to join a global alliance with an agreement expected to be reached within 12 months. He said has was “reluctantly looking” at selling down the Virgin Group’s stake in Virgin Atlantic, to ensure it survives the growing competition on many key routes. The carrier has hired Deutsche Bank to explore its options after British Airways gained approval to increase trans-Atlantic cooperation with American Airlines.
Sir Richard however added that it was "unlikely" than any agreement would end his control of the airline. Branson’s Virgin Group owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic while Singapore Airlines has a 49% stake. Sir Richard did not say whether he expected Singapore Airlines to retain its holding. Singapore Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, which also includes Lufthansa, US Airways, United Airlines and bmi.
On European markets, Icelandair shares gained 9.2%.
Selected EAD daily share price movements (% change): 21-Feb-2011
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