Qatar Airways may consider raising LATAM stake
LANGKAWI, Malaysia, Oct 17: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said his airline would consider lifting its 10per cent stake in LATAM Airlines Group SA (LTM.SN) if the opportunity came up - comments which come after Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) agreed last month to buy 20per cent of the Chilean carrier.
But al-Baker also noted that LATAM's free float was limited. Currently around 48per cent, according to Refinitiv data, it could fall to as low as 28per cent depending on the take up of Delta's tender offer for shares.
Qatar Airways has historically had a contentious relationship with major US carriers, which have accused Gulf airlines of receiving unfair government subsidies, distorting competition and costing Americans jobs. The Gulf carriers have rejected the accusations.
Delta's $1.9 billion deal with LATAM ended the Chilean airline's long-time ties with American Airlines. It came after the Chilean Supreme Court denied a proposed venture between LATAM and American on competition grounds.
Al-Baker said Qatar Airways, which has an independent member on the LATAM board, did not have prior notice of the Delta deal.
"We don't dictate to LATAM how they should conduct their business," he told Reuters on the sidelines of at an event to launch a new route from Doha to Langkawi. "(It) is absolutely their prerogative with whom they want to have shareholding, with whom they want to work with." He offered praise for Delta, saying it had "outmaneuvered" American. -Reuters