|Slovenian state trio to sell majority share in Adria|
The Slovenian government, state-owned Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) and the state-owned bank DUTB have signed a deal to jointly sell their 91.58% stake in national airline Adria Airways. The government will be selling a 69.87% share in the carrier, BAMC a further 19.63% and PDP will offload its 2.08% stake. The remaining biggest single owners are the Abanka Vipa Bank (4.74%), Hypo Alpe Adria Bank (1.81%) and Unicredit banka Slovenija (1.76%). The sales process marks the second time Adria has been put up for sale, following a failed attempt in August 2012 when the government offered a 74.8% share to potential investors. Under European Union regulation, only a company from inside the block is able to buy a majority stake in another EU-based business.
Adria Airways’ CEO, Mark Anžur, recently said it would be best to offer the carrier to small airlines or financial investors, as big European players have "problems of their own". Mr. Anžur added, “One problem is that a company from outside of the Union can only take a 49% stake. Our choices are limited, so in my opinion we can realistically expect interest from Europe. We would like someone with a strong capital base, someone who would allow us to focus on growth and give us more freedom with our own finances. Of course, we can survive without a partner as well”. Adria has not yet reported its financial results for 2014. Mr. Anžur says passenger numbers have risen about 7% with the company expected to break even.
During Adria’s last privatisation attempt, a total of ten parties submitted non binding offers. Up until now there has been no official word on who made these bids. However, it is believed that Welcome Air, a small Austrian-based airline operating two turboprop aircraft and the Dutch company Panta Holdings, which in 2012 purchased the German airline OLT Express (which has since gone bankrupt), were among the bidders. Also rumoured to have been interested was Germany’s Intro Aviation, 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 merged with Air Berlin. Unlike two years ago, Adria is no longer under investigation by the European Commission for receiving state aid. The government is now expected to select a privatisation advisor before calling for the submission of bids.