|Croatia Airlines "happy" with €50 million for ownership stake|
Croatia Airlines’ CEO, Krešimir Kučko, has said the carrier is planning to sell a stake to a strategic partner for fifty million euros. “If someone would want to be considered as a strategic partner, we would be happy with that figure. The key for us is to keep our niche and grow the company”, Mr Kučko said in Zagreb last week. He added, “We have turned the company around. I think investors will be able to see us for what we are: a small and smart air carrier that aptly navigates the global market”. Furthermore, the CEO said the national carrier has good relations with the international consortium Zagreb Airport International Company, which runs Croatia’s busiest airport. According to Mr Kučko, the airline has secured “fair conditions” with the operator.
In late May, the Croatian government formally hired the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investment arm, to find an investor, after a previous efforts to sell the airline failed in 2013 due to a lack of interest. The majority stake can be sold only to an investor from the European Union, according to EU rules. In March, Assistant Transport Minister, Dan Simonić, said the government was prepared to sell a majority stake in the company, retaining a 25% share in the airline. He added at the time that local pension funds are interested in acquiring 5% - 10% of Croatia Airlines if the government finds a serious strategic partner that will treat the investment as a long-term commitment.
The government has said that a future strategic partner will be required to expand Croatia Airlines' route network and market share, modernise its fleet, further develop its profitable maintenance division and support the development of Zagreb Airport into a regional hub. The IFC is expected to identify potential investors for Croatia Airlines by the end of October. If successful, the sale is expected to be finalised prior to Croatia’s next parliamentary elections, which must be held on or before February 20, 2016. Croatia Airlines is in the final months of a four year restructuring program which has seen the airline return to profitability but also limit its opportunities for growth.