Etihad becomes official part owner of Air Serbia
Etihad Airways has officially completed its 49% takeover transaction of Air Serbia. The takeover agreement was signed by Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan and the Serbian Minister for Transport, Aleksandar Antić, in Belgrade on Tuesday, away from the media spotlight, presumably so as to avoid calls for the secretive deal to be made public. As a result, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates has turned the forty million dollars it has invested into Air Serbia since August 1, 2013 into equity. A further 200 million dollars will be invested in the Serbian carrier in the coming period. With the official signing ceremony completed, Etihad now also has controlling stakes in Air Serbia subsidiaries Air Serbia Catering and Air Serbia Ground Services. The Serbian Business Register Agency is expected to record the changes in Air Serbia’s ownership structure in the coming days. The Serbian government remains the majority shareholder with a 51% stake.
|Etihad's global ownership structure|
Lately, calls have intensified for the agreement to be made public. However, Air Serbia maintains it cannot do so since there is a strict secrecy clause in the agreement. The company says that publishing the agreement would harm relations between Serbia and the UAE and could lead to Etihad pulling out of the deal and filing a complaint against Air Serbia at the London Court for International Arbitration. Earlier this month, Siniša Mali, one of the chief negotiators of the takeover, said the government will discuss with its UAE partners the possibility of making parts of the agreement public.
Meanwhile, the Serbian carrier has created a new leisure subsidiary named Air Serbia Corporate Travel Services. The company will specialise in holiday and tour travel packages. Stevan Šipka from Australia has been named as the subsidiary’s CEO similar to Jat's former Airlift tour operator. In addition, John Earnshaw from the United Kingdom has been named as CEO of Air Serbia Catering. Mr. Earnshaw previously worked as Assistant Vice President at Emirates Airlines Flight Catering.