14 bids emerge for stricken French airline, but none ‘feasible’

Aigle Azur airline is in cessation of payments and placed into receivership. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

14 bids emerge for stricken French airline, but none ‘feasible’

  • Aigle Azur operates 11 planes but unions say potential suitors are likely to be most interested in its landing slots at Paris Orly
  • Aigle Azur transported last year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations

PARIS: France’s Aigle Azur airline has received 14 takeover bids as it seeks to stave off a collapse that would put its 1,150 employees out of work, but it said all would have to be improved because they aren’t “feasible” for now.
“These takeover offers for the company all need to be refined and are not feasible in their current form,” the company said late Monday.
Some 13,000 passengers, mainly on the airline’s core Algeria routes, remain stranded after Aigle Azur filed for bankruptcy last week and canceled all flights as of Friday night.
A new works council meeting has been set for Friday, ahead of a court hearing on Monday, to evaluate improved offers due later this week.
Air France, the country’s flag carrier, has tabled an offer, though it declined to elaborate on whether it was for the entire airline or only specific assets.
EasyJet confirmed in had lodged a bid, as has fellow low-cost operator Vueling, union sources said.
The Dubreuil group, which owns Air Caraibes, told AFP it had made a bid, as has Lionel Guerin, the former CEO of Air France’s low-cost subsidiary Hop.
“Obviously there are two main activities: the long-haul flights, which would interest Air Caraibes, and then the core France-Algeria and France-Maghreb operations, which would interest candidates like Air France,” France’s secretary of state for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told France Info radio on Monday.
Aigle Azur operates 11 planes but unions say potential suitors are likely to be most interested in its landing slots at Paris Orly, the city’s second-biggest airport, after Charles de Gaulle.
Aigle Azur transported last year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations that brought in 300 million euros ($329 million) of revenue.


India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

Updated 15 October 2019

India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

  • Products on Amazon, Flipkart listed at steep discounts in sale
  • Trader groups allege firms violating foreign investment rules

NEW DELHI: The Indian government is looking into whether hefty discounts offered on Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon.com during their online festive sales violate foreign investment rules, a commerce ministry official told Reuters.
India introduced new rules in February aimed at protecting the 130 million people dependent on small-scale retail by deterring big online discounts. The rules forced e-commerce firms to tweak their business structures and drew criticism from the United States, straining trade ties between New Delhi and Washington.
While Amazon and Flipkart say they’ve complied with the federal rules, local trader groups say the two companies are violating them by burning money to offer discounts — of more than 50 percent in some cases — during the ongoing festive sales.
Reuters reviewed emails and internal training material from Flipkart showing the company is in some cases offering to reduce, or forfeit, its sales commission from sellers that offer discounts.
The commerce ministry official said the government was reviewing complaints and evidence filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a group representing some 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, alleging Amazon and Flipkart were violating the foreign investment rules.
The official declined to comment on possible action, but executives from Amazon and Flipkart were summoned to meet commerce ministry officials last week to discuss the matter.
Flipkart in a statement said it had a “good meeting” with government officials and it was “deeply committed to doing business the right way in India.”
Amazon said it had an “open & transparent discussion” with officials and has a high bar for compliance.
Seeking to attract shoppers around the key Hindu festival of Diwali, both retailers have placed full-page advertisements in top national daily the Times of India to showcase discount offerings stretching from Samsung and Apple phones to clothing and diapers.
“Customers are going online because of the unbelievable discounts. Because of this sales at offline businesses are down 30 percent to 40 percent this month,” CAIT’s secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.
Two emails received by Flipkart sellers in September, just days ahead of the inaugural phase of the festive sales, showed it offering to partly fund discounts.
The company would “burn” 3 percent of the discount if a seller lowered a product price by 15 percent, or 9 percent if the seller discounted by 30 percent, said one of the emails.
In training material posted on Flipkart’s restricted website for its sellers, seen by Reuters, the company asks them to prepare for the festive season by saying “nothing is bigger than this” and explaining how they can benefit by discounting products for Flipkart’s premium customers.
“We want to ensure that you fetch as much profit from it as possible ... whatever the discount you are offering, half of that will be reimbursed to you by Flipkart,” a post said.
A Flipkart source said the incentives were compliant with Indian regulations and were aimed at promoting sellers’ earnings by effectively reducing the commission they pay.
All India Online Vendors Association, whose 3,500 members sell products on various online platforms including Flipkart, in a statement said fewer than 100 of its members benefitted from Flipkart’s partial discount funding, giving some sellers an unfair advantage.