British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG) is in exclusive talks to buy Niki, Air Berlin’s insolvent Austrian airline, Reuters has reported. The news comes after London-listed low-cost carrier easyJet (LON:EZJ) recently acquired part of Air Berlin’s operations.
IAG’s share price has slipped into the red in today’s trading, having given up 0.37 percent to 645.62p as of 09:49 GMT. The shares are underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having climbed into positive territory and currently standing 0.17 percent higher at 7,635.63 points.
IAG in talks to buy Niki
A source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters yesterday that IAG was in exclusive talks to buy Niki, after the insolvent airline’s administrator said that one bidder out of four had remained in the race for the holiday carrier. Apart from the FTSE 100 group, which also owns Iberia, Air Lingus and low-cost carriers Vueling and Level, other bidders for Niki included TUI Group (LON:TUI), Thomas Cook and former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda.
“IAG is the last remaining bidder and is still negotiating now,” the source told the newswire, adding that the company had put in the highest offer – a double-digit million-euro amount. German newspaper Bild has put the figure at around €40 million.
New owner will have to pay running costs
Reuters further quoted a spokesman of administrator Lucas Floether as saying in a statement that the provisional creditors’ committee for Niki had “decided to continue sales negotiations for the business operations of the company exclusively with one bidder for now”.
Floether meanwhile noted that the new owner will have to pay Niki’s running costs, including salaries for its roughly 1,000 employees in Austria and Germany, from the beginning of January.