American Airlines to take 2.68% stake in China Southern

A passenger talks on the phone as American Airlines jets sit parked at their gates at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport. (AP)
Updated 29 March 2017
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American Airlines to take 2.68% stake in China Southern

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI: China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd. said on Tuesday it will sell a small stake to American Airlines Group Inc. in a $200 million deal that will give the carriers better access to the world’s two largest travel markets.
China Southern will issue new shares worth HK$1.55 billion ($199.6 million) to American Airlines, making it the second US carrier to own part of a Chinese airline after Delta Air Lines Inc. bought 3.55 percent of China Eastern Airlines Corp. for $450 million in 2015.
It also means China’s three biggest airlines now have tie-ups with foreign airlines, something Beijing has encouraged as a way to boost the sector’s global competitiveness. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Chinese flag-carrier Air China purchased stakes in each other in 2006.
“We are pleased to begin this relationship to better connect two of the world’s largest aviation markets and leading economies,” China Southern Chairman Wang Chengshun said in a statement issued by American Airlines.
In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, China Southern said it would issue 270.61 million Hong Kong-listed H-shares, representing 2.68 percent of the enlarged share capital of the airline. The shares would be issued at HK$5.74 apiece, or a 4.6 percent premium to the previous close.
The carrier’s mainland-listed shares, which resumed trading after a three-day suspension, jumped as much as 4.3 percent in early trading to their highest price in 7-1/2 months.
“We are two of the biggest carriers in the world and our networks are highly complementary,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said in the statement.
Cooperation plans
For American Airlines, the deal could widen access to China, one of the biggest sources of tourists to the US, and will help it compete with rival Delta, which has invested in foreign carriers in Mexico, Brazil, and Britain in recent years.
It said the two carriers are expected to begin codeshare and interline agreements later this year that would allow customers to travel to more than 70 destinations beyond Beijing and Shanghai, and for China Southern’s customers to access almost 80 destinations beyond Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.
Guangzhou-based China Southern, the country’s biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers, said the deal would help it “achieve the strategic goal of building a world-class aviation industry group.”
The airlines also could increase cooperation in other areas including staffing, sales, passenger loyalty programs and sharing airport facilities, it said.
Analysts, however, said they expected the deal to have little impact on the airlines’ operations beyond closer cooperation.
“It makes sense to partner with another foreign airline,” said Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Kelvin Lau, citing Air China and China Eastern’s deals.
“But ... because the stakeholding is pretty small, I do not think it will make any material changes in terms of management.”
Beijing has vowed to shake up Chinese airlines by implementing mixed-ownership reforms and introducing private capital and strategic investment into its state-owned enterprises to improve efficiency and competitiveness.
Chinese airlines have been aggressively expanding their fleet and international routes as they seek to capitalize on strong growth in outbound Chinese travel that has far outpaced tourism at home.


IDEX 2019: UAE armed forces sign new defense deals

Updated 19 February 2019
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IDEX 2019: UAE armed forces sign new defense deals

  • Falcon was developed in response to the UAE’s request to replace the Hawk Air Defense System

ABU DHABI: The UAE armed forces has signed $1.17 million worth of defense contracts with local companies and $514.8 million with international companies, military spokesperson Brigadier General Mohammed Al-Hassani said on Tuesday.

The Emirates on Monday also awarded Raytheon a $1.55 billion contract to supply its air force with platform systems to launch missiles.

The agreement was signed at the week-long IDEX military exhibition in Abu Dhabi and followed the award on Sunday of a 1.3 billion-dirham contract to Raytheon to supply the UAE with patriot missiles.

The UAE armed forces signed a total of 7.2 billion dirhams in contracts on Monday, including 5.8 billion dirhams with international companies, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Hassani said, speaking through a translator.

The UAE has signed a total of 12 billion dirhams in contracts since the IDEX exhibition started on Sunday, he said.

Lockheed Martin, Germany’s Diehl Defense, and Sweden’s Saab on Monday launched at IDEX the Falcon air defense weapon system, billed as a replacement to the Hawk system used by countries in the Middle East.

Falcon was developed in response to a UAE request for a replacement for the Hawk system and talks are underway to sell it to the Gulf state, Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and deputy head of Integrated Air and Missile Defense said.

Weapons sales to the UAE have come under scrutiny over the past year due to the country’s involvement in the Yemen war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of starvation.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a military coalition, which includes local forces drawn from Yemeni factions, that is trying to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in 2014 by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.