Etihad Airways has lifted its stake in Virgin Australia to 24.2 per cent after buying a fresh parcel of shares in the airline for the second time in two months.
The Abu Dhabi-headquartered carrier forked out $22.2 million to purchase 45.8 million ordinary shares at 48.4 cents per share in an off-market trade, according to a regulatory filing to the Australian stock exchange on Friday afternoon.
Virgin shares ended Friday’s trading day at 46.5 cents.
It was the second time in two months Etihad has upped its stake in the Australian flag carrier, having lifted its stake to 22.9 per cent in November when the airline purchased 60.6 million shares at 43.5 cents per share.
Etihad received FIRB approval to lift its shareholding in Virgin beyond 22.9 per cent in December and the airline’s chief executive James Hogan said this latest purchase confirmed its confidence in Virgin’s management and business strategy, as well as Etihad’s commitment to the Australian market.
“The Australian market is one of the most important in Etihad Airways network and our partnership with Virgin Australia – enhanced by investment in the airline – is key to our commercial success,” Hogan said in a statement on Friday
At 24.2 per cent, Etihad is Virgin’s second-largest shareholder, behind Air New Zealand at 25 per cent. Singapore Airlines, which holds a 23 per cent stake, and Sir Richard Branson’s UK-based Virgin Group (10 per cent) are the airline’s other major shareholders.
Hogan is a director on the Virgin board alongside the chief executives of SIA and Air NZ, Goh Choon Phong and Christopher Luxon, respectively.