Zero interest in 49% stake in Croatia Airlines
The Croatian Ministry for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure has officially confirmed it has not received a single offer for the purchase of a 49% stake in Croatia Airlines. The result comes after a month long tender process and assurances from Garuda Indonesia it would take part in the procedure. "Early next year, when we announce the second round for initial offers after publishing the airline’s 2013 financial results, there will be interest in Croatia Airlines", the head of the ministry, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, says. He adds that the expiry of the thirty day deadline late on Wednesday, with no bids in the first round of tender procedures, was "nothing dramatic".
Originally, it was planned for the privatisation process to be carried out through two separate tenders. The first called on parties to express their interest while the second was to outline precise sale conditions. On the other hand, the government also said it has a “Plan B” should the privatisation process fail and it includes selling the company’s assets one by one. Warning signs that interest in the Croatian carrier was low were apparent at the China summit with sixteen Central and East European Countries in Bucharest earlier this week where Croatian officials pitched Croatia Airlines to Chinese investors.
Despite the initial failure to find any potential partners, Mr. Hajdaš Dončić says the airline, which will post its first profit in six years at the end of 2013, will be more appealing due to its stronger financial performance. The lead of up to the tender procedure was marred by media coverage of the airline’s safety record following a spate of recent incidents, which the carrier says was an orchestrated attempt aimed at hurting its privatisation chances. For the time being, Croatia Airlines will continue with its restructuring program which is scheduled to last until 2015. Recently, the airline’s CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said the carrier has a clear development plan regardless of whether it gets a new part owner or not.