Qantas says its foreign ownership level dropped five percentage points in late October, just before the airline’s annual general meeting.
Foreign interests currently hold 42.8 per cent of Qantas stock, the airline said in a statement on Thursday. The figure was down from 47.8 per cent on September 17.
Under listing rules, Qantas was required to inform the stock market when the level of foreign ownership changes by more than one percentage point, whether it reaches or exceeds 44 per cent, or when it falls below 44 per cent. Moreover, the Qantas Sale Act puts a maximum 49 per cent cap on total foreign ownership in the airline.
Recent major trades in Qantas have included Los Angeles-based Capital Research Global Investors selling about 65 million shares, according to a regulatory filing on September 19.
The Flying Kangaroo’s largest foreign shareholder was US-based Franklin Templeton Investments, which had about 18 per cent Qantas stock.
The reduction in foreign ownership came just before the Qantas annual general meeting, where chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline had achieved an underlying operating profit in the first quarter of 2014/15.
Joyce also reaffirmed guidance for a first half underlying profit before tax.
The positive news prompted a fresh rally in the Qantas share price, with the stock up about 22 per cent since the AGM on October 24. It closed Wednesday’s local session at $1.72
By comparison, Virgin Australia, which ended trade at 40 cents on Wednesday, had risen 4.5 per cent in that period.
Qantas has proposed creating a new entity for its mainline international operations to give the carrier increased flexibility in its capital structure.