Former F1 champion Niki Lauda eyes parts of Air Berlin

Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest airline, filed for insolvency last month after major shareholder Etihad withdrew funding following years of losses. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2017
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Former F1 champion Niki Lauda eyes parts of Air Berlin

VIENNA/BERLIN: Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda said he has partnered with German airline Condor in a bid worth around €100 million for 38 Air Berlin leased aircraft.
Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest airline, filed for insolvency last month after major shareholder Etihad withdrew funding following years of losses.
Administrators are now seeking investors for the business, with bids due by Friday and a decision planned on September 21.
Most potential investors are seen being interested primarily in Air Berlin’s roughly 140 leased aircraft and its airport slots rather than its operating business or employees.
Lauda holds 51 percent of a consortium with Thomas Cook subsidiary Condor which will bid for 21 leased Airbus A320 and A321 planes at Air Berlin subsidiary Niki – which Lauda once owned – and 17 Air Berlin aircraft, he told Austrian newspaper Kurier on Wednesday.
Asked how much he was willing to pay, Lauda told ORF radio on Thursday: “It depends very much on how the details are defined, but we are now offering around €100 million.”
Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser declined to comment. The company has previously said it was looking to play an active role in the Air Berlin process.
Two sources close to Condor cautioned however that no joint bid had been submitted. One of them said such an offer was unlikely to materialize.
The other source said that Condor remained interested in a double-digit number of planes, including ones for long-haul routes.
Austrian-based Niki has lower costs than Air Berlin and earlier this year it took over flying popular routes from Germany to tourist destinations in Spain.
Lauda and Condor would face competition from Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline.
Lufthansa plans to make an offer for up to 90 planes, including Niki’s fleet and 38 crewed planes it already leases from Air Berlin, a source told Reuters.
British budget carrier easyJet is also reportedly interested in up to 40 planes, previous reports have said. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday that easyJet was interested in Air Berlin’s regional unit Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter (LGW), without specifying its sources.
LGW currently operates 20 smaller Bombardier planes and its operating certificate is being changed so that it can fly the A320s used by easyJet, the newspaper said. The British carrier was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Other interested parties include aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl, who says he has submitted a bid for the whole of Air Berlin, while German family-owned logistics company Zeitfracht and China’s LinkGlobal Logistics have also expressed interest.
Air Berlin’s flight operations were disrupted earlier this week after pilots called in sick, in what was seen as a protest about job uncertainty, potentially complicating efforts to rescue the carrier.
Management, unions and politicians all called on the pilots to return to work to ensure talks with bidders could be completed. Air Berlin expects normal operations on Thursday, a spokeswoman said.


First day of Future Investment Initiative sees mega-deals and nod to future technologies

Updated 15 min 28 sec ago
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First day of Future Investment Initiative sees mega-deals and nod to future technologies

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative (FII) kicked off in Riyadh on Tuesday, with the head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund saying the event can do "business for good." He also said the event would see countries coming together to "collaborate for the future.”

The event in Riyadh also saw a raft of deals worth $50 billion being finalized, including 12 so-called “mega-deals” being signed.

 

 

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of the Public Investment Fund and the opening speaker at the event, also said his fund was targeting a $2 trillion portfolio by 2030.

 

 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, CEO and MD of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company as well as Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, were all in attendance on Tuesday.

Khan said, during the panel on emerging opportunities, that his country was looking for a mix of loans from the IMF and “friendly governments.” Khan added that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about boosting investment ties between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih praised CEO of French energy giant Total, Patrick Pouyanne, for standing by Saudi Arabia in this difficult period.

"We see what partnership means when you have difficult times," Pouyanne responded as he shared the stage with Falih.

"This is when you really strengthen a partnership."

 

 

On the energy and investment panel, Al-Falih noted that global oil demand would hit 120 million barrels a day in the next few decades, and that the Kingdom could boost its crude production by 1-2 million barrels a day.

 

 

The world's media turned their attention to a future technology presentation when the Crown Prince and Jordan's King Abdullah II arrived.

 

At the session, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Sawahah said: "Saudi Arabia is moving at light speed in becoming the tech hub of the region."

Meanwhile, Emirati investor Mohamed Alabbar added: "There is so much room for technology growth in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the whole region."

The three-day FII event will likely see more investment partnerships from Russia and China being forged, as noted by Ellen Wald, president of the Transversal Consulting think-tank and author of the recent book “Saudi Inc,” with executives still looking to do business at the Riyadh meeting despite some having pulled out.

Click for more coverage of the event: Future Investment Initiative.