New owners for Adria coming soon
German based Intro Aviation is close to finalising a majority takeover of Adria Airways. The news comes six months after the secretive tender for the Slovenian carrier’s privatisation came to an end. Intro Aviation is a consultancy firm which has turned around several loss making airlines, including NFD (presently known as Eurowings) as well as dBa and LTU International Airlines which have since been integrated into Air Berlin. It is believed that Intro Aviation would weave its magic again and build up Adria which would then be handed over to Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest airline and Lufthansa’s arch rival.
For the first time since tender procedures came to a close, some of the bidders vying for a stake in Adria have been revealed. They include Welcome Air, a small Austrian based airline operating two turboprop aircraft and the Dutch company Panta Holdings, which last year purchased the German airline OLT Express. OLT ceased operations in January this year due to financial problems. Several financial investment firms are also said to have submitted their bids for Adria.
In February, the Slovenian government shortlisted Adria as one of five public companies whose shares should be sold within the next three months. In August 2012, the government offered 74.8% of the airline’s shares and interested parties had until September to submit non binding bids. The invitation for bids was published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and the Flight Global magazine. The Assets Management Agency (AUKN) confirmed that ten parties submitted non binding offers but declined to give out their names. Up until now there has been little information on the progress of the privatisation process.
A potential takeover by Air Berlin could jeopardise Adria’s place within the Star Alliance family. Air Berlin is a member of Oneworld and a fierce rival of Lufthansa, which has been Adria’s traditional partner. Air Berlin has two subsidiaries – Austrian based Niki and the Swiss Belair. Since 2011, Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi owns 29% of Air Berlin.