|Potential investors from across the world contacted for Adria sale|
Slovenia is expected to commence tender procedures for the sale of its national carrier, Adria Airways, soon, according to the country’s official news agency STA. The airline’s financial advisor, KPMG, is in the process of collecting statements of interest for a 91.58% stake in the company. The Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SDH), which is coordinating Adria’s sale, declined to put a firm timeframe on the privatisation process. “As part of the sales procedure, the financial advisor has contacted the widest possible range of potential investors from around the world. The sale of each company varies and we will not comment on a timeframe”, the SDH said in a statement.
The Union of Slovenian Pilots has expressed interest in purchasing a stake in Adria and has discussed the move at a general meeting last month. The pilots are seeking assistance in form of a loan from Slovenia’s union-owned bank, Delavska hranilica, which last year acquired a 57% stake in Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport. Earlier this year, the Slovenian President, Borut Pahor, urged Qatar Airways to buy a stake in Adria. European Union laws allow foreign investors to own no more than 49% of its carriers. The country’s former President, Danilo Turk, initially proposed for the Qatari carrier to invest in Adria back in 2009. A year later, Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, ruled out a possible acquisition following talks with Adria’s management, noting that Qatar will instead focus on organic growth.
The CEO of Adria Airways, Mark Anžur, previously 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 European 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”. During Adria’s last privatisation attempt in 2012, when a 74.87% was offered, a total of ten parties submitted non-binding bids. Up until now, there has been no official word on who made those bids. Several national carriers from across Europe are seeking foreign investors including Croatia Airlines, Montenegro Airlines, TAP Portugal, Air Malta, TAROM and LOT Polish Airlines. Adria ended 2014 with a profit of 900.000 euros, its best result in seven years. It handled 1.1 million passengers, up 8% on the year before, with numbers continuing to improve during the first quarter of 2015.