Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

AIR NEW ZEALAND (ANZ) is again close to buying a stake in Ansett Australia, but this time from 50% partner TNT. The move follows recently aborted negotiations to take News Corporation's half share, and Ansett executive chairman Ken Cowley says that News Corporation would now remain an active stakeholder for several years. He also rules out a three-way split in the Ansett shareholding.

New negotiations with TNT chief executive David Mortimer are believed to be based on a price of round A$450 million ($340 million) - A$100 million lower than discussed with News, and reflecting Ansett's poor half-year results and short-term outlook.

TNT recently told the Australian Stock Exchange that it had "...been involved in discussions with ANZ Limited regarding a phased acquisition... of TNT's 50% shareholding in Ansett. No deal is imminent, and no agreement has been reached. "

Hinting at friction between News and TNT over the deal, Cowley confirms that News Corporation had agreed a price with ANZ in January, suggesting that the deal foundered on ANZ's separate negotiations with TNT over a shareholder agreement between the two prospective partners.

Source: Flight International