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SAS to acquire Norway's Braathens.

AIRLINE INDUSTRY INFORMATION-(C)1997-2001 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

The Scandinavian airline SAS has entered into agreements to take over the Norwegian airline Braathens ASA.

SAS is to acquire the 38.8% of the shares held by the Braathen family (Braganza AS/Bramora AS) and the 30% stake owned by the Dutch airline KLM, and has also announced its intention to make an offer for the remaining shares.

SAS is offering NOK35 per share, valuing Braathens at NOK1,127m.

Commenting on today's (21 May) announcement Braathens' managing director Arne A Jensen said that an acquisition by SAS was the best solution to the airline's difficult financial situation. "Braathens can not survive as a company without a solution involving co-operation with SAS", Jensen said.

According to a statement from SAS the initiative to the transaction came from Braathens.

"Braathens and its principal shareholder contacted SAS and asked it to consider becoming involved as an owner in order to contribute to a long-term improvement in the airline's position. The owners and management at Braathens believe that the company is not viable as an independent organisation in the present structure. Norway's atypical civil aviation system, with two players of virtually the same size in a limited market, and other factors mean that Braathens - despite being the domestic market leader - has suffered substantial losses over several years," SAS said in its statement.

SAS's acquisition of Braathens will not include Braathens current operations in Sweden which are to be divested before the transaction. If no suitable buyers are found the Swedish subsidiaries will be taken over by Braathens' current main shareholders Braganza AS and Bramora AS for a nominal sum.

Braathens will continue as a separate brand, with is own organisation. SAS has said that the jobs in the two companies will be safeguarded and that efforts will be made to resolve possible overstaffing through natural attrition, redeployment and retraining.

SAS has also said that it intends to strengthen both Braathens' domestic and international route networks.

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Publication:Airline Industry Information
Date:May 21, 2001
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