Virgin Australia shares have been placed in a trading halt on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) ahead of an announcement from Air New Zealand about its shareholding in the Australian-based carrier.
“The trading halt is requested pending an announcement by Air New Zealand in relation to its shareholding in Virgin Australia,” the company said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday.
“Virgin Australia wishes the trading halt to remain in place until the earlier of such time as Air New Zealand makes an announcement to the market in relation to its shareholding in VAH and the commencing of trading on Thursday 31 March 2016.”
Air NZ is Virgin’s largest shareholder with about a 26 per cent stake and its chief executive Christopher Luxon is a director on the Virgin board.
Etihad, with about 24 per cent, Singapore Airlines (23 per cent) and Sir Richard Branson’s UK-based Virgin Group (10 per cent) are also major shareholders in the Australian carrier and each has a representative on the board.
The four major shareholders recently agreed to provide Virgin a $A425 million 12-month loan to boost its balance sheet while the airline group conducted a capital review.
Each of the four major shareholders’ contribution to the loan, which Virgin said at the time was based on “arm’s length commercial terms”, was in proportion to their relevant interest in Virgin. Air NZ’s contribution totalled $A131.2 million.
Virgin shares were at 38 cents at the time the stock was placed in a trading halt.