BA and Iberia boards meet to discuss merger

12 Nov 2009 by Mark Caswell

A statement to the London Stock Exchange said the boards would consider a "potential transaction".

But the BA statement stressed that "no decisions" have been taken.

The full statement said: "Further to recent market speculation, British Airways confirms that the British Airways and Iberia boards are holding separate meetings (November 12) to consider a potential transaction.

"However no decisions have been taken and at this time, there can be no guarantee that a transaction will be forthcoming.

"A further announcement will be made in due course, if appropriate."  

The two airlines, both members of the oneworld alliance, have been in merger talks since the summer of 2008. The plan was a £4.2bn all share merger.

But the deal nearly came unstuck earlier this year as BA's hopes of a 65-35 split in its favour were increasingly opposed by the Spaniards as the UK carrier's share price fell on the London Stock Market.

Willie Walsh, BA's CEO threatened in January to walk away from the talks if the split was 53-47. The two airlines are eventually understood to have settled for a 55-45 split.

But the talks continued at a snail's pace until summer when the resignation of the Iberian ceo Fernando Conte and his replacement by Antonio Vazquez is thought to have given them much needed momentum.

Walsh said last month that an announcement on the merger could be made "in the coming weeks".

The long running talks have thrashed out most of the details of the merger. The outstanding issues concern the structure and financial arrangements for the new company which will oversee the two carriers. Both airlines are currently losing money.

BA announced a Q3 pre-tax loss of £292m last week while the latest figures from the Spanish carrier revealed a loss of €78m for the second quarter.

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Report by Stanley Slaughter

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