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Australian govt rules out foreign ownership of Qantas after Texas/Macquarie bid

Sydney (XFNews-ASIA) - The government has ruled out allowing Qantas to fall into foreign hands, following a 10.9 bln aud takeover offer for the airline by Macquarie Bank and US-based private equity firm Texas Pacific Group.

"The government policy is that the majority ownership of Qantas should be Australian," treasurer Peter Costello told reporters.

Legislation limits total foreign ownership of Qantas to 49 pct and any individual share holding to 25 pct.

 The treasurer said it was vital to keep such an important national symbol in Australian hands.

"It flies the Flying Kangaroo and the Flying Kangaroo says Australia -- and as far as I'm concerned that means majority Australian ownership," he said.

Australia's Allco Finance Group, which has an aircraft leasing business and rates Qantas as one of its key customers, said it was considering participating in the bid.

Texas Pacific and Macquarie Bank have won financial backing from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Credit Suisse for their bid for Qantas, the Financial Times reported.

The report, citing people familiar with the matter, added that TPG and Macquarie are "deadly serious" about the bid, with the carrier's strong cash flow seen as positive for a leveraged bid.