Aegean Airlines and Spain’s Air Nostrum have submitted non-binding bids for the acquisition of Croatia Airlines. According to the news from the airline, both entities submitted their offers to the airline’s privatization advisors, PBZ and DVB, without providing further information.
The government has set a deadline to either fully privatise or recapitalise Croatia Airlines by June 2020. Now, advisors will now analyze the submitted offers and pass them on to the company’s management. An inter-agency committee, set up by the state, will then select the best offer if it meets their set requirements.
Aegean Airlines expressed initial interest for its fellow Star Alliance member Croatia Airlines back in 2015. Air Nostrum, on the other hand, has been wet-leasing its aircraft to Croatia Airlines over the summer months for the past three years. Iberia itself has significantly expanded its flight offering to Croatia.
Croatia’s Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, said last month the government plans to sell up to a 70% stake in Croatia Airlines. He added, “Consultants are currently looking into potential strategic partners and will decide on the best possible recapitalization model by year’s end. Then we will launch a public tender. Based on the government’s decision, we will select a strategic partner by the end of June 2020.
The focus is obviously on finding an investor from the aviation sector, but the government is not insisting on this. Officials have mulled the possibility of creating a holding comprised of the airline and state-run airports, which would then be taken over by pension funds or for the airports themselves to recapitalize Croatia Airlines. However, this proposal has not been met with wide approval. Earlier this month the Association for the Management of Pension Funds said it is interested in the takeover of a potential holding company. On the other hand, Split Airport noted such a venture would be “too risky”.