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PAL cool on report of stake sale to ANA

Philippine Airlines has distanced itself from a report claiming that Japan’s ANA Holdings is finalising a deal to take a strategic stake in the carrier.

Local news outlet Inquirer.com reported on 22 January that the deal is in its final stages, with an announcement likely in the coming weeks, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter.

However, in response to a query from the Philippine Stock Exchange, the airline states that there is “no definite agreement between PAL and any investor.”

It also reiterated earlier statements that it “has always been open to the possibility of a strategic investor” since the local conglomerate San Miguel Group sold its 49% stake in the carrier to Lucio Tan Group in 2014.

PAL adds that while it plans to “establish itself as a world-class airline, but said goal does not necessarily involve the entry of any investor.”

The comments were similar to those issued by the carrier earlier this month after its president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista told reporters on 9 January that it hopes to secure a foreign strategic investor to take up to a 40% stake in the airline during the first half of the year.

ANA and PAL have been linked as potential partners since 2013, when San Miguel confirmed that it had held talks with the Japanese airline group.

In 2014 the two airlines entered into a codeshare arrangement, but since then talk of a potential investment by ANA has been dismissed as market speculation.

The Japanese carrier has signalled, however, an increasing desire to invest in Southeast Asian carriers, albeit with mixed success.

In 2017 it took an 8.77% stake in Vietnam Airlines, but that same year also withdrew plans to take a 49% stake in Myanmar startup carrier Asian Blue after authorities there rejected its application for an air operator’s certificate.

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