Virgin Australia stake raises interest of bidders
As China’s HNA Group is looking for ways to reduce its own debt, a 19.8% stake the group has in Virgin Australia is gaining attention among potential buyers.
It is known that China‘s HNA Group is looking into offloading some of its foreign assets in order to reduce debt. While the group never expressed an official intention to sell its 19.8% stake in Virgin Australia, the prospect has reportedly already caught interest of several other shareholders.
Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) could consider increasing its current share of the airline, according to Bloomberg. For now, it holds a fifth of Virgin Australia shares. Another investor group, Nanshan Capital, based in China and specialized in entertainment, previously acquired Air New Zealand’s 20% stake in Virgin Australia back in 2016. It could be coming for more.
So far, no single investor has control over the airline. In addition to the ones already mentioned, Virgin Australia’s shareholders include Etihad Airways with a 21% stake and Virgin Group at 10%. Despite no official intention to sell, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that HNA is open to offers. Other investors and airlines may be interested.
In 2018, Virgin Australia, the second largest Australian airline after Qantas, declared a $653 million loss, despite a record pre-tax profit of $109 million. However, plans to privatize the remaining 10% shares of the company to improve its liquidity were eventually scrapped in February 2018.
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