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  • Not Exactly Virgin Territory: European Airline Takeover Buzz
    Posted by Rupa Haria 10:46 AM on Feb 21, 2011

    Yesterday’s Sunday Times, citing no sources, reported that Air France-KLM and Delta are examining a bid for Virgin Atlantic.

    The Telegraph followed, suggesting possible outcomes include a codeshare deal, joining an alliance, the sale of Singapore Airline’s stake in Virgin, or for Richard Branson to relinquish majority control of the airline - in short, nobody really seems to know what exactly is going on.

    There is little question Virgin needs to do something. Our colleague, Jens Flottau, highlighted the issue here.

    Ben Sandilands over at Crikey is asking: “Who started the Virgin Atlantic Air France Delta rumor?”

    Ben's assessment seems reasonable. There is probably little to gain for Delta and Air France-KLM having a possible tie-up in the public domain, but Virgin Atlantic may be looking to get the ball rolling.

    In separate news, Reuters is speculating about the next airline on the hit list for Willie Walsh, CEO of the combined British Airways/Iberia International Airlines Group. A smaller European airline looks to be the first target, simply because it’s easier to tackle the regulatory issues. The Reuters report suggests Portuguese TAP could be a perfect target. Perhaps Finnair, a fellow Oneworld partner, would make more sense.

    Then the speculation moves east. After a European acquisition, Reuters suggests Walsh could target Kingfisher, Qantas, Air China or China Southern. Maybe even China Eastern. Interestingly, Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific is not on the list.

    Another unnamed source, this one with knowledge of IAG’s plans, is quoted as saying "the new company's first priority is to get the house in order, but it has to be ready to pounce if an opportunity arises." 

    Given all the potential at IAG, and what Lufthansa and Air France-KLM already having going on, the fate of Virgin is perhaps little more than an interesting sideshow.

    Tags: tw99, virgin atlantic, delta, air france, iag, tap, finnair

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