Air Berlin in negotiations to raise stake in NIKI; Thai to increase stake in Nok?


LCC ownership continues garner headlines around the world, with Germany and Thailand in focus today with moves by Air Berlin to increase its stake in NIKI and Thai Airways to do likewise at Nok Air.

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Air Berlin in negotiations to raise stake in NIKI;

Air Berlin (shares up 1.8%) yesterday confirmed it is in "advanced negotiations" regarding the increase of Air Berlin PLC's shareholding in NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH. The negotiations have not been completed yet and Air Berlin PLC has not yet obtained the approval of its Board of Directors. A board meeting is scheduled for today to discuss the matter.

According to reports in Der Standard, Germany's second largest airline is seeking to raise its stake in NIKI from the current 24% to 49%. The move follows Lufthansa's recent acquisition of Austrian Airlines. Niki Lauder stated he would make an important announcement at his company's annual earnings news conference on 18-Feb-2010.

Thai Airways planning to increase stake in Nok Airlines?

In the Asia Pacific region, the Bangkok Post reports today that Thai Airways plans to increase its stake in Nok Air from the current 39% to 60% in the next two months, to exercise more control over the LCC. Thai Airways plans to increase its stake to 49% through its own capital, while its provident and employees' welfare funds would acquire the remaining 10% and 11% stakes.

Thai plans to increase cooperation with Nok, and ultimately hand over the majority of its domestic services to the LCC. Approximately nine of Thai's 12 domestic routes are no longer profitable due to high costs and increased competition from LCCs, including Thai AirAsia. Thai Airways' shares fell 0.5% yesterday.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 16-Feb-2010

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