Lufthansa Buys Stake In Brussels Airlines

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Lufthansa buys stake in Brussels Airlines holding

Monday, September 15, 2008

(09-15) 07:37 PDT BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) --

Germany's Lufthansa AG has moved to take over Brussels Airlines, purchasing a 45 percent stake in the holding company that owns the Belgian carrier for 65 million euros ($91.4 million), the companies said Monday.

The deal gives Lufthansa the option to take over all of Brussels Airlines in 2011 for a price not exceeding 250 million euros ($351.6 million).

In the first phase, Lufthansa will take a 45 percent stake in SN Airholding though a capital increase. The price for taking the remaining 55 percent in 2011 will depend on Brussels Airlines' performance within the ceiling set by Monday's deal.

The deal is dependent on regulator approval and support from Lufthansa's supervisory board and the shareholders and board of Brussels Airlines.

The German carrier, which also owns Swiss International Airlines, said it envisions Brussels Airlines continuing to operate largely independently after the deal.

Brussels Airlines started operating last year. It combined the budget Virgin Express airline with SN Brussels Airlines — the successor to former Belgian flag-carrier Sabena, which went bankrupt in 2001.

The news comes at a time when many airlines are having trouble — notably Italy's Alitalia, which was declared bankrupt Aug. 29 — and the industry is consolidating at a time of high fuel prices and global economic problems.

Last year Lufthansa carried 63 million passengers in it fleet of 513 aircraft. Brussels Airlines carried 5.8 million in its 49 planes.

Lufthansa employs 105,000 people, and Brussels Airlines employs 3,000.
 
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