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SIA gears up to take Ansett stake in order to fund fleet upgrade.

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

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is apparently preparing to take a stake in Ansett Australia from Air New Zealand (Air NZ), after the latter carrier stretched its finances when it bought 50% of Ansett from News Corp Ltd for AUD580m last year.

SIA had attempted to take a 50% stake in Ansett in 1999, but was prevented from doing so by Air NZ exercising its pre-emptive rights. SIA has apparently also indicated its willingness to increase its 25% stake in Air NZ to 45%, but is unable to do this because of the New Zealand government's foreign ownership rules, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ansett however is in need of a fleet upgrade, a situation made more evident by the December 2000 grounding of six of its Boeing 767 aircraft due to important maintenance checks not being carried out. Several aircraft were also grounded in January 2001, reducing public and shareholder confidence in the carrier according to analysts.

It is believed that SIA has the financial clout to fund Ansett's problems and help Air NZ create a healthier balance sheet.

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Publication:Airline Industry Information
Date:Feb 13, 2001
Words:199
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