Singapore Airlines is set to become the second largest shareholder in Virgin Australia following its announcement today of plans to acquire another 9.9 per cent of Australia’s second largest airline grouping, taking its total holding to 19.9 per cent, just shy of Air New Zealand’s 19.99 per cent.
SQ will purchase the 255.5 million Virgin Australia Holding shares for $122.6 million (at 48 cents a share) from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Following completion of the sale, which requires Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval, Virgin Group’s holding in Virgin Australia will fall to about 17 per cent.
“Our partnership with Virgin Australia has been going from strength to strength, offering a wide range of consumer benefits,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.
“Increasing our stake in Virgin Australia is another example of Singapore Airlines’ deep commitment to the important Australian market. It also demonstrates our support for the ongoing transformation of Virgin Australia, which has created a more competitive aviation market in Australia.”
Singapore Airlines acquired its first 10 per cent of Virgin Australia in late 2012 under a complex arrangement that has seen Virgin Australia move to take a controlling 60 per cent share in Tiger Airways Australia.
The third key airline investor in Virgin Australia is Etihad Airways (nine per cent), meaning major airlines will soon control just under 50 per cent of the airline.