Qantas says its foreign ownership level has risen to 44.7 per cent, edging closer to the 49 per cent legislated cap.
In an update to the market on Wednesday, Qantas said its total foreign ownership level had risen from 43.7 per cent at July 31 to 44.7 per cent at August 25.
Under Australian Securities Exchange rules, the airline was required to inform the market if its total foreign shareholding reached or exceeded 44 per cent.
Qantas recently announced plans to create a new holding structure and corporate entity by splitting its Qantas mainline operations into separate Domestic and International units. The proposed move, unveiled at the full year results presentation in August, was designed to open the possibility of more foreign investment in the airline.
“This will have no impact on the day-to-day operations, network or staffing at Qantas International,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said on August 28.
“It will create the long-term option for Qantas International to participate in partnership opportunities in the international aviation market, with a view to achieving further efficiencies and improved returns to shareholders.”
The Qantas Sale Act prohibits foreign persons or companies from owning more than 49 per cent of Qantas stock.
US-based investment firm Franklin Resources Inc was Qantas’s largest shareholder with an 18.66 per cent stake, according to the airline’s 2013/14 annual report.
News of the increased foreign ownership level comes as Fairfax Media reported representatives from China Eastern flew to Sydney to meet with their counterparts at Qantas keen to forge a deeper cooperation between the two airlines.
Qantas and China Eastern codeshare on each other’s services between Sydney and Shanghai, while Qantas has placed its QF code on a number of China Eastern’s domestic flights from Shanghai within China. The two carriers are also investors in the yet-to-be-approved Jetsar Hong Kong.