The Airline group, IAG, parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has announced the acquisition of Air Europa for €500 million from Spanish company Globalia.
‘The board believes that the acquisition remains strategically important for the group and positions it to benefit from growth opportunities in the Latin America and Caribbean market, as well as to increase connectivity to Asia,’ IAG said in a statement.
IAG announced last August it had taken a 20% stake in Air Europa after converting a loan.
It will acquire the remaining 80% for €400 million, the group said, adding that the agreement is “’ubject to regulatory and other approvals, which could take around 18 months’.
In Brussels, a European Commission spokeswoman said officials had not yet been notified of the deal. ‘If a transaction has an EU dimension, it is always up to the companies to notify the Commission,’ she stressed.
In 2021 the commission opened an in-depth investigation into IAG’s plans to buy Air Europa, saying it was concerned that it could limit consumer choice.
IAG announced its proposed merger with Europa in 2019, at the time estimated at €1billion.
The group, which also owns the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling, hopes to strengthen its links to the American continent and make Madrid a main European hub.
But the project was hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led IAG to halve its initial offer, then by the reluctance of the European Commission, worried about a reduction in competition in the Spanish market.
These difficulties led IAG to announce in late 2021 the termination of the 2019 purchase agreement.
The revised deal will ‘enable IAG’s Madrid hub to compete on an equal footing with other European hubs and consolidate its position in the South Atlantic’, IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said in the statement.
‘Madrid is the main gateway between Latin America and Europe and there are opportunities to expand its network, providing significant benefits to our customers, employees and shareholders,’ he added.
A sum of €400 million would be paid in the form of €100 million in IAG shares and €100 million in cash upon closing the deal, followed by an additional €100 million payable in cash on both the first and second anniversary of the final deal, the statement said.
The Air Europa brand will be retained under the management of Iberia.
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