BA searches for partners to land Spanish line

British Airways says it has approached a number of private equity companies about making an offer for Spain's Iberia airline.

British Airways says it has approached a number of private equity companies about making an offer for Spain's Iberia airline.

BA already has a 10% stake in the firm and is reviewing its holding in light of earlier news that Iberia had received a takeover approach.

The company said one option involved forming a consortium with a private equity group and possibly including "one or more" partner from Spain. It ruled out going it alone in a bid for Iberia.

The airline added: "British Airways has not made a final decision about the future of its shareholding in Iberia and continues to examine numerous options, including full disposal.

However, it has ruled out an independent bid for the airline.

Iberia is Spain's largest air transport group and the fourth-largest in Europe. It is also a significant provider of services on routes between Europe and Latin America, with the most flights and destinations.

The group employs about 25,000 people.

Iberia increased revenues by 10% to £3.7bn last year, but profits from operating activities fell 64% to £91.7m.

The review of BA's holding comes a month after Iberia said private equity group TPG had requested information with a view to making a full offer.

BA acquired its stake in Iberia as part of a joint investment made with American Airlines in 1999. Yesterday's statement said: "British Airways is considering how to use its 10% holding in Iberia following Iberia's announcement that it has received a bid approach. As part of this process, the airline has approached a number of private equity companies about making a consortium offer for Iberia. Any consortium bid would not involve further capital investment by British Airways. As well as a private equity partner, this consortium is likely to include one or more Spanish partners."

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