Air New Zealand (ANZ) will have to wait another week before learning whether Singapore Airlines (SIA) will be allowed to increase its 25% stake and help with a badly needed cash-raising exercise.

New Zealand finance minister Michael Cullen announced on 30 August that a decision on whether SIA could increase its stake would be delayed to 12 September "at the earliest" from the originally planned 4 September.

Cullen's office said the delay was necessary because ANZ had not finalised all details of its capital requirements, and the finance minister would be visiting China between 6 and 12 September.

SIA wants to increase its stake to up to 49% but ownership by a single foreign airline is capped at 25%. Airlines in aggregate can hold 35%, while total foreign ownership is limited to 49% (Flight International, 28 August-3 September).

ANZ's board has backed Star Alliance partner SIA's bid to increase its stake. SIA will also assist with efforts to raise cash, which is necessary in part to help fund a fleet renewal at ANZ and its Australian subsidiary Ansett.

Cullen's announcement of a delay came a day after ANZ said it would postpone the planned 4 September release of full-year financial results by nine days to allow its board to consider the government decision. The carrier is due to report a sizeable loss for the year ended 30 June.

"We are working very constructively with the New Zealand Government and its advisers to progress options for recapitalisation of Air New Zealand," says ANZ acting chairman Jim Farmer.

Qantas has made a rival offer under which it would buy SIA's stake in ANZ and in turn SIA would buy Ansett. This has been rejected by ANZ' s board, but the Australian Government has indicated it prefers the Qantas proposal, making the decision a politically sensitive one for New Zealand.

Source: Flight International