Turkish holding company buys 15.3% of Air Berlin

Posted on 14 February 2011

Date: 06/04/2009
Turkish holding company buys 15.3% of Air Berlin

TUI Travel has acquired a 19.9 percent share in Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier, Air Berlin, for approximately $85 million, in a strategic alliance deal that will also see Air Berlin taking over operations of TUI’s struggling German airline operations, Hapag-Lloyd Flug and Tuifly.

The announcement comes the day after a separate deal between Air Berlin and ESAS Holdings, a Turkish conglomerate, for a 15.3 percent in Air Berlin formerly held by U.S. billionaire Len Blavatnik. The two deals end months of speculation over the future ownership of the budget carrier.

Air Berlin also released its 2008 results, showing a fall in operating profit to $18.6 million from $28 million in 2007, which was inline with forecasts.

The Turkish group ESAS Holding has a wide range of interests in aviation, healthcare, property, and will gain one seat on the Air Berlin board. It also owns Pegasus Airlines, Turkey’s second largest carrier.

Blavatnik, previously the largest shareholder in Air Berlin, bought into the airline only in May 2008 but saw the carrier’s share price slump 40 percent as the huge spike in fuel prices and subsequent recession hit the aviation industry.

The cross-shareholding deal, which is subject to approval by the competition authorities, is due to take financial effect from October 1.

Travel Agent Central 30 March 2009 (Abridged)

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