Etihad raises Virgin Australia stake to 10.5%

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Etihad Airways has bought additional shares in Virgin Australia, taking its stake in the carrier to 10.5%.

According to a document lodged with the Australian Securities Exchange, Etihad purchased 61.5 million ordinary shares in Virgin between 1 August 2012 and 29 July for a total of A$28.5 million ($25.4 million).

The document shows that the airline made 20 share purchase transactions in July, after it received approval from the Australian government to increase its stake in Virgin to 19.9%.

Etihad's move comes 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.

Etihad recently announced that it would take a 49% stake in Air Serbia, formerly known as Jat Airways. The airline is also securing approvals to take a 24% stake in Indian carrier Jet Airways for $379 million.