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Cash-rich ANA offered 8.8% stake in Vietnam Air

Bloomberg

Vietnam Airlines Corp. will sell an 8.8 percent stake to ANA Holdings Inc., owner of Japan’s biggest airline, for $108 million, the companies announced Tuesday.

The deal with the operator of All Nippon Airways will close sometime between March and June, Vietnam Air Chief Executive Officer Pham Ngoc Minh said in a telephone interview Tuesday. The two airlines will discuss additional stake sales later, he said.

ANA has been scouting for acquisitions in Southeast Asia since 2013 after raising $1.8 billion in a share sale. A plan to buy a stake in Myanmar’s Asian Wings Airways Ltd. was canceled in 2014.

“We chose ANA since they’re a big, prestigious airline with a large market that does not compete with ours,” Minh said. “ANA’s experience and strengths will help Vietnam Airlines expand.”

In a joint statement from the two companies, ANA Holdings Chief Executive Officer Shinya Katanozaka called Vietnam Air “the ideal partner.”

“We look forward to completing this strategic investment and launching our partnership so we can serve our passengers even better,” he said.

ANA will place one person on Vietnam Air’s board, and will offer operational and managerial insight to the Hanoi-based carrier, according to the statement.

Last year, Vietnam Air said it was aiming to select a strategic partner willing to purchase a 20 percent stake by the time shares sold in a 2014 initial public offering start trading this year. The carrier, set to transform its fleet with deliveries of the newest Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. wide-body models, would prefer to link up with another carrier, Minh said in an interview in June.

Vietnam Air is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which also includes Air France and Korean Air Lines Co. ANA is a member of the Star alliance, which includes Singapore Airlines Ltd. and United.