National Jet Italia to be bought by Nikoram

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Struggling British Airways’ (BA) Italian franchise partner National Jet Italia (NJI) is to change owners once again after Aviation Partners Worldwide (APW) revealed it has agreed to sell the airline to Italian investors grouped under Dutch company Nikoram Holding.

Nikoram is to initially pay £135,410 ($190,000) for NJI in three stakes – the latter part of £67,705 to be paid on completion of a fundraising by NJI of at least £15 million. A further consideration of £440,000 will then be payable over the next nine months.

APW, chaired by former Cathay Pacific CEO Peter Sutch, acquired NJI only in August in a £30.7 million deal. The funding for the acquisition came from the issue of new shares in APW, then called Tolmount, while a further share issue was to raise the necessary working capital for the Italian domestic airline.

However loss-making NJI has suffered further problems, notably since the travel decline sparked by the events of 11 September. Earlier this month NJI was forced to suspend its Rome services to Nice, Athens and Milan, though it has been operating from the Italian capital to Verona and Genoa

“As a result of these problems, NJI is unable to continue operating without an injection of cash, which the board of APW is unable to arrange in the present circumstances,” the company says in a statement announcing the sale. It says a deal has been struck with Nikoram to help ensure NJI can continue operations.

“Nikoram is to acquire NJI including its liabilities to trade and other creditors and to bank and other financiers including aircraft lease commitments,” AWP says. APW finance director Mike Scantlebury will leave the company’s board to work directly for NJI under its prospective new owners.

AWP, which bought NJI in a bid to develop its aviation activities, is to brief shareholders of its future plans in a letter shortly.

NJI was established in the summer of 2000 and operates a fleet of four British Aerospace BAe 146s, and two Boeing 737-400s.