Business Irish

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Norwegian open to right deal as CEO reveals more interest

Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos
Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos

Richard Weiss

Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos has said his company has attracted takeover interest from multiple potential bidders and remains open to a deal on the right terms.

While Aer Lingus owner IAG has had two offers rejected and Deutsche Lufthansa is looking at submitting a proposal, Mr Kjos said yesterday that "several others" are also interested. Shares rose as much as 5.8pc.

The parties are all "very well run airlines with good people", according to the CEO, who said that Norwegian Air would be a better fit for a European carrier than an American or Asian one. A decision on whether to sell would be based on price and factors including the impact on employment, Mr Kjos said, adding that he wouldn't oppose a board backed transaction.

Norwegian shares rose 12pc Monday after Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said his company was in talks and might submit a bid. IAG disclosed its interest in April, saying it had bought a 4.6pc stake and would like a full offer, though CEO Willie Walsh said on May 18 that the Nordic carrier wasn't a must-have target.

Mr Kjos has dialled down his opposition to selling Norwegian as he grapples with a stretched balance sheet and has said he's no longer opposed to doing a deal on the right terms.

"If the owners want to sell I will not stop it," he said in Brussels. "I will listen carefully to the other shareholders. I just think it's too early because we have not started harvesting yet."

Mr Kjos said that if the board was to recommend a sale he'd have to consider the impact on employees in particular.

Current capital-raising efforts will meet its needs for the time being, the CEO added.

Shares of Norwegian were up 4.5pc yesterday afternoon. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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