Etihad boosts stake in Virgin Australia to 12.3%

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Etihad has boosted its stake in Virgin Australia to 12.3%, with the Middle Eastern carrier obtaining additional ordinary shares on the open market.

Virgin Australia made the disclosure in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The total value of the flour blocks of shares acquired comes up to Australian dollars (A$)18.5 million ($16.8 million), totalling some 46.5 million ordinary shares.

In a statement on 2 August, Virgin revealed that between 1 August 2012 and 29 July 2013 Etihad acquired 61.5 million ordinary shares for a total of A$28.5 million. This boosted its stake to 10.5%.

Etihad has received government approval to increase its stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9%.

Etihad's share purchases come after Singapore Airlines boosted its stake in Virgin to 19.9% in May after buying a 9.9% stake from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Branson has also indicated that the group may be interested in selling its remaining 13% stake in the Australian airline as it is no longer a core investment for the company.

Air New Zealand is the largest shareholder in Virgin with a 23% stake, and is seeking regulatory approval to take a further 3% of the Australian airline.