Lufthansa gets backing from economy minister in Air Berlin carve-up

Lufthansa, Germany’s top carrier, cannot buy all of Air Berlin because it would give it a dominant position in Germany. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2017
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Lufthansa gets backing from economy minister in Air Berlin carve-up

BERLIN: Lufthansa has received more German government support in its bid to take over substantial assets of insolvent rival Air Berlin, with German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries saying she would welcome such a move.
“Lufthansa is already an aviation champion — its position can be strengthened further though,” she was quoted saying by German daily Handelsblatt on Monday.
However, a spokesman for the ministry later attempted to play down the remarks, saying it had no preferred bidder. Industry rivals have voiced concerns at the way the insolvency process is being handled.
“Air Berlin is leading the negotiations,” the spokesman said. “The government is not at the table. And the government is neither for nor against any of the interested parties.”
Lufthansa, Germany’s top carrier, cannot buy all of Air Berlin because it would give it a dominant position in Germany. But Lufthansa is first in line for talks, ahead of other potential bidders.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has already complained that the process is going too quickly to give others a chance to bid.
EasyJet, Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor and tour operator TUI could also be among the interested parties.
Buying parts of Air Berlin and taking on its staff would give successful bidders access to Air Berlin’s takeoff and landing slots at busy airports such as Duesseldorf and Berlin.
With many Germans away on their summer holidays and a September election looming, Berlin has granted a bridging loan of 150 million euros ($176 million) to keep Air Berlin’s planes in the air and secure 7,200 jobs in Germany while buyers for its assets are found.
A creditors’ committee, which will have to agree any sale, is due to meet for the first time on Wednesday, two sources said, although no major decisions are expected.
The committee includes representatives from the federal labor office, which is currently paying Air Berlin staff wages, Commerzbank and Lufthansa, which is leasing 38 crewed planes from Air Berlin.
Chief Executive Thomas Winkelmann was quoted as saying over the weekend that he hoped for a solution in September.
Winkelmann said Air Berlin had been in talks with more than 10 parties but ultimately the assets would likely be divided up among two or three buyers.
Austrian leisure airline Niki, which is owned by Air Berlin but not part of the insolvency proceedings, is also seen as attractive because it has lower costs.
Businessman Hans Rudolf Woehrl, who sold airlines DBA and LTU to Air Berlin a decade ago, is also interested, but has said he wants to buy Air Berlin as a whole and keep it running as an independent airline.


UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

Updated 21 May 2018
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UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

  • UAE cabinet announces the launch of an integrated visa system to attract talent and talent in all vital sectors of the national economy
  • The Council also announced changes in the system of foreign ownership of companies in the country, which allows the acquisition of 100% of the global investors by the end of the year

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, home to financial hubs Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is loosening its residency laws and will grant long-term visas for up to 10 years to investors and highly-skilled professionals.
The 10-year residency visas will be granted to specialists in science, medicine and research, and to “exceptional students.” The state-run WAM news agency says the plan aims to attract global investment and innovators.
The UAE Cabinet approved the new rules on Sunday, saying plans are also on track to allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their UAE-based companies this year.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum affirmed that the UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. “The UAE has been open, governed by tolerance and contributed to by all who live on its land.
“Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation offer the best opportunities to attract international investment and exceptional talent in the UAE,” he said. “Our country is the land of opportunity, the best environment for realizing human dreams and unleashing their extraordinary potentials.”
The new regulations include raising the percentage of global investors’ ownership in companies to 100% by the end of the current year. He directed the Ministry of Economy in coordination with the concerned parties to implement the decision and follow up on its developments and submit a detailed study in the third quarter of this year.
The new regulations approved by the Council of Ministers and the authorities concerned have also set the procedures for implementing them to grant investors residence visas of up to ten years for them and all members of their families, as well as granting residency visas of up to ten years for specialized competencies in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
The new regulations also include visas for students studying in the country for five years and a 10-year residency for exceptional students.
Under current laws, foreign companies must have an Emirati owning 51 percent of the shares, unless the company operates in a free zone. Major brands Apple and Tesla are believed to be exceptions to the rule.