Japan Airlines hires Merrill Lynch, Qantas denies stake interest in JAL

Japan Airlines has hired Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co to evaluate the carrier’s value and advise on its search for partners and investments, according to a Bloomberg report.

This is another positive step forward for the deal that is said to involve Delta Air Lines and American Airlines and possibly their partners.

See related report: Japan Airlines dances with SkyTeam and oneworld. Three weeks that will reshape north Asian aviation

Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, has meanwhile told the Australian Financial Review that the Australian carrier will explore all avenues to maintain JAL as a partner, including encouraging upcoming American Airlines meetings with the Japanese airline. But Qantas spokesman, David Epstein, confirmed to The Australian that the airline is not involved in any of the formal negotiations taking place regarding JAL, “nor are we engaged in any M&A or consolidation discussions with any other airline”.

Japan Airlines’ shares gained 2.4% on Friday, while Qantas rose 3.7%.

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 18-Sep-09