Qatar Airways Spends $600m To Lift Its Stake In IAG To 25.1%
Qatar Airways has bought a $600 million stake in Aer Lingus-owner International Airlines Group (IAG) to increase its holding to 25.1%, strengthening its position ahead of a change in IAG management.
In an endorsement of the Anglo-Spanish group just weeks before its founder Willie Walsh steps down, Qatar said that the move shows its support for IAG and its strategy.
Qatar previously held 21.4% of IAG, which also owns British Airways and Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling. IAG's share price has risen by 52% in the last six months.
Qatar increased its holding after IAG lifted restrictions on investments from outside the European Union last month.
IAG, which is registered in Madrid and headquartered in London, capped its equity held outside the EU at 47.5% a year ago to comply with EU ownership rules, a situation that could be further complicated by Britain's departure from the EU.
It said in January that non-EU ownership had fallen to 39.5%, so the cap was no longer required.
Qatar Airways Investments
State-owned Qatar Airways, one of the Middle East's biggest carriers, has said that its investments in other carriers were mostly for financial purposes. It does not have an IAG board seat.
It bought some of its holdings after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia banned it from their airspace after a regional political dispute, which Qatar Airways has blamed for its recent losses.
It has minority holdings in international carriers Cathay Pacific and China Southern, and said earlier this month that it is interested in doubling its holding in LATAM Airlines Group to 20% and is in talks to buy a 49% stake in Africa's RwandAir.
The airline also owns 49% of Air Italy, whose investors this month said is being placed into liquidation because of "persistent and structural market problems".
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said, "Our investment to date has been highly successful and the announced increase in our shareholding is evidence of our continued support of IAG and its strategy."
Qatar first invested in IAG in 2015, buying 9.99% of the company, and has steadily increased its holding since then.