|Asian interest in Croatia Airlines|
Korean Air and Taiwan's EVA Air are reportedly eyeing a stake in Croatia's national carrier, the daily "Večernji list" has reported. The two are said to be perusing a 49% share in the airline, as the Croatian government seeks a strategic partner for its national carrier for a second time. The government has been focusing on potential investors from Asia. Recently, 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. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank subsidiary, is expected to identify potential investors for Croatia Airlines by the end of October.
Korean Air, which is a member of the Sky Team alliance, bought a 44% stake in ČSA Czech Airlines in 2013 for an initial five-year period. The purchase price of 2.64 million euros, offered by Korean Air, was based on the last known value of Czech Airlines’ shares, set by a court-appointed expert. The partnership helped generate several projects including the addition of an Airbus A330-300 jet into Czech Airlines’ fleet, leased from Korean Air, and the introduction of long haul flights between Prague and Seoul. On the other hand, EVA Air was founded in 1989 and is privately owned. A member of Star Alliance, it currently serves over seventy destinations with 63 aircraft.
The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, said recently, “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”. Croatia Airlines itself sees a strategic partner as an opportunity to achieve its growth targets for next year at a quicker pace. CEO Krešimir Kučko recently said, "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". The Croatian government is looking to rap-up the carrier's privatisation process prior to the next parliamentary elections which must be held no later than February next year.