Etihad raises stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9%

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Etihad Airways has raised its stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9%, the threshold permitted by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

In a filing with the Australian Securities Exchange, Etihad says it has increased its stake from 17.4%, following a series of on-market transactions in recent weeks. Between 20 September and 8 October, the middle-eastern carrier acquired 63.6 million shares at a cost of Australian dollars (A$) 30.5 million ($28.8 million).

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier now holds more than 515 million shares in Virgin Australia.

It now stands with Singapore Airlines as the second largest shareholders in the Australian carrier. Air New Zealand is the largest shareholder with a 23% stake, and is awaiting approvals to raise the figure to 26%.

Etihad and Virgin signed a 10-year strategic partnership agreement in August 2010 that includes codesharing on flights, joint sales and marketing activities and also shared loyalty programme privileges.

“The strategic partnership continues to deliver significant revenue streams and other benefits to each airline,” says its president and chief executive James Hogan.

“Increasing our equity in Virgin Australia will further enrich the commercial benefits which the partnership delivers for both airlines as well as increasing the benefits to Australian travellers and visitors to Australia.”