China Eastern to re-start SIA buy-in talks after Olympics

Singapore
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China Eastern Airlines is planning to revive talks in the coming months with Singapore Airlines (SIA) regarding the Singaporean carrier’s possible purchase of a minority stake.

The official China Daily newspaper quotes China Eastern’s board secretary, Luo Zhuping, as saying the Shanghai-based carrier “would continue discussions regarding the share sale deal with Singapore airlines after the Olympics in August”.

Luo added: “We will discuss the issue after the Olympics, and all things will become clear then.”

Star Alliance member SIA and its parent Temasek Holdings agreed in September to buy a combined 24% of China Eastern in a deal supported by the Chinese carrier’s board and parent company. Shareholders voted against it in January, however, after rival Air China’s parent company said it intended to make a better buy-in offer.

China Eastern has said repeatedly that it is not interested in a partnership with Air China or its parent company and no formal talks have taken place between the groups.

China Eastern is in the weakest financial state of China’s ‘big three’ carriers, the others being Air China and China Southern Airlines. Last week there were reports that government officials were looking at merging China Eastern with another Shanghai-based carrier, Shanghai Airlines, although the two denied that any talks had taken place.

Luo is quoted by the China Daily today as saying: “We have not considered the merger with Shanghai Airlines, and have not talked about this with other domestic carriers. Merging with domestic carriers is just a resource synergy, but our urgent task at the moment is to improve the services by introducing the world’s leading management experience.”

Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news