|IFC eyes advisory role in search for Croatia Airlines partner|
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which finances and provides advice for private sector ventures and projects and is a member of the World Bank Group, is interested in advising the Croatian government in its search for a strategic partner for Croatia Airlines. In October, the government formally relaunched the airline’s privatisation process, following a failed attempt last year, and appointed a commission to handle the sales procedure. As an external consultant, the IFC would seek out potential investors and report back to the commission. The IFC is expected to submit its final offer to the Croatian government for advisory services within the next ten days.
According to media reports, the IFC guarantees it will be able to find Croatia Airlines its new owner within a year. The Corporation has a strong presence in the Middle East and China, where the government hopes to find a strategic partner for the carrier. The IFC is already active in Croatia and has invested nineteen million euros in Zagreb Airport’s new passenger terminal. Furthermore, the Finance Corporation has an 18% stake in the holding firm Zagreb Airport International Company (ZAIC), which runs Croatia’s busiest airport. It has also provided a loan of 35 million euros for the construction of the new terminal.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday granted approval for Croatia Airlines to hire a PR agency to inform the public on the company’s restructuring program and the latest developments in its search for a strategic partner. The government will fork out 52.000 euros for the service. Preparations for the sale of Croatia Airlines have been more structured and advanced than a year ago, when the government last tried to privatise the carrier. It foresees for a company from the European Union to acquire a majority stake in the airline but those from outside the bloc will be limited to a 49% share. The government expects from the new owners to invest funds into Croatia Airlines, modernise its fleet, expand its route network and market share, further develop its profitable maintenance division and support the development of Zagreb Airport.