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SAirGroup will not raise stake in SAA

SAirGroup has ruled out increasing its stake in the South African carrier Keystone

SAirGroup does not intend to raise its 20 per cent stake in South African Airways (SAA) and is as yet undecided about what will happen to its current holding in the carrier, according to a spokesman for SAirGroup.

He was reacting to a statement by SAirGroup’s vice president of alliances, Richard Meichtry, in Johannesburg who said the airline had no intention of selling its stake in SAA, and could still be interested in taking up an option to buy a further 10 per cent in SAA.

The group spokesman said Meichtry was not yet fully aware of the latest SAirGroup board decision to stop any new investments in the airline sector.

“We will not increase our stake and the current stake in SAA is part of the strategic review,” he said.

Meichtry had said on Thursday that the SAA investment was profitable and therefore didn’t warrant disposal.

“It wouldn’t make sense to pull that investment in any regard. There is no pressure to do so, because it’s a very profitable investment,” he explained.

He said the focus of the overhaul in its airline activities would be in Europe. The airline group holds a 49.5 per cent stake in the loss-making Belgian carrier, Sabena, and also owns stakes in various other European airlines.

SAirGroup, parent company of Swissair, bought a 20 per cent stake in SAA, Africa’s largest airline, in 1999 for one point four billion rand (SFr294 million) from South Africa’s transport utility Transnet.

It also paid an additional 48 million rand for a one-year option to take up an additional 10 per cent of equity for 700 million rand.

Results from SAirGroup’s strategic review are due March 12.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR