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Delta buys 49% share of Virgin Atlantic for $360m

Delta Air Lines is to acquire Singapore Airlines' 49% share in UK operator Virgin Atlantic for $360 million, less than half the £600 million ($965 million) figure paid by SIA.

The acquisition includes the formation of a broader transatlantic agreement, comprising a metal-neutral joint venture with the carriers sharing costs and revenues.

Virgin chairman Richard Branson will retain his 51% shareholding in the UK operator. The acquisition and joint venture will be completed by the end of 2013, Delta says.

Delta's and Virgin's tie-up, which has yet to secure anti-trust approval, will provide a combined transatlantic network covering 31 services between the UK and North America. Twenty-three of these will serve London Heathrow.

Singapore Airlines confirms it is divesting the 49% of Virgin Atlantic it bought in March 2000. It says it has been evaluating options for the shareholding for "some time" because the investment "has not performed to expectations" and the originally-foreseen synergies "have not materialised".

While Virgin has leaned towards partnerships with Star Alliance carriers in the past, Delta Air Lines is a SkyTeam member.

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