|Croatian government aims to exit majority ownership in Croatia Airlines|
The Croatian government plans to sell a majority stake in Croatia Airlines, as the carrier’s privatisation process continues. The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, said, “The World Bank is our consultant and we are looking for the best possible solution, whether it be recapitalisation or privatisation. We are interested in the survival of Croatia Airlines, in keeping the name, but the state wants to gradually withdraw from majority to minority ownership in the company. Without a foreign partner, Croatia Airlines is not likely to survive on the market”. The IFC, a World Bank subsidiary, is expected to identify potential investors for Croatia Airlines by the end of October.
The Croatian government foresees for a company from the European Union to acquire a majority stake in Croatia Airlines but those from outside the bloc will be limited to a 49% share, in line with EU legislation. Last week, the Croatian Prime Minister held talks with Japan Airlines (JAL) in Tokyo, presenting the carrier with business opportunities in his country. In the past, several airlines from Asia, including Garuda Indonesia and Hainan Airlines, expressed interest in purchasing a stake in Croatia Airlines. Carriers from the Far East rarely participate in public tenders and equity investments are a result of negotiations. JAL is the second largest airline in Japan and is a member of the Oneworld alliance.
The CEO of Croatia Airlines, Krešimir Kučko, has once again reiterated that the carrier should be recapitalised, rather than sold. “For quicker growth and a return to the position we once held, but lost due to restructuring imposed by the EU, fresh capital is certainly welcome and it should come through recapitalisation”. He added, “If we are to go at it alone, we will develop as well, but it will be at a somewhat slower pace”. With its restructuring process, which has limited the airline’s opportunity for growth, to be completed by the end of 2015, Mr. Kučko believes next year will be one of development and expansion. “Next year we can create a network which is best for the carrier. We will no longer have any restrictions”, Mr. Kučko concludes.