EUROPE & CIS: Lufthansa proceeds with Belgian, BMI purchases

Lufthansa, Europe’s second biggest airline, has said it will proceed with takeovers of Belgian and UK carriers by early next month after settling antitrust issue and transaction terms. Lufthansa aims to complete the purchase of 45 per cent of Brussels Airlines in June, and is sticking to plans for complete control by 2011, following European […]


Belgian bmi Brussels Airlines Lufthansa Michael Bishop SAS Group


Lufthansa, Europe’s second biggest airline, has said it will proceed with takeovers of Belgian and UK carriers by early next month after settling antitrust issue and transaction terms.

Lufthansa aims to complete the purchase of 45 per cent of Brussels Airlines in June, and is sticking to plans for complete control by 2011, following European Union approval after the carriers agreed to scale back services on three German routes serving Brussels as well as Brussels-Zurich flights to allow in competitors. Lufthansa also said it reached an agreement on buying a majority stake in its BMI venture in the UK as of July, at which point it will hold 35 per cent.

The BMI agreement involved an outof- court settlement with the airline’s founder and chairman, Michael Bishop. Lufthansa holds 30 per cent minus one share of BMI while SAS Group, owner of Scandinavian Airlines, has 20 per cent. Bishop exercised an option forcing Lufthansa to buy his 50 per cent plus one share holding in BMI starting this year, and he sued the German company in mid-May to speed up the transaction after the EU gave antitrust approval. BMI’s biggest asset is its control of 11 per cent of take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow airport.