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Polygamous British Airways holds onto big Qantas merger talk gains: Iberia worse off

British Airways shares closed virtually steady on 03-Dec-08 - holding onto the huge gains the previous day as reports of merger talks with Qantas were confirmed.

For Iberia, the meddlesome Kangaroo has given BA's valuation a significant lift at a delicate stage in the ongoing BA-Iberia negotiations. Iberia Chairman, Fernando Conte, is seeking urgent talks with BA to try to salvage a deal.

With all the appearance of a jilted lover, Mr Conte commented that it could be "too complex" for British Airways to pursue merger agreements with Iberia and Qantas in parallel, although he sees consolidation as a method of resolving the "toxic combination" of economic slowdown and cost inflation.

For its part, British Airways stated its proposed mergers with Iberia and Qantas and alliance with American Airlines were not alternatives. BA Treasurer, George Stinnes, stated, "we'd be very happy to consummate all these transactions - it's certainly not an 'either-or' situation".

Mr Stinnes added, "these things are complex - it's not like going down to the corner shop and picking up some apples".

And to think we're only at the courtship stage...