By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi airline pays $10.6m for additional shares as it looks to build up 10% interest
Etihad Airways has raised its stake in Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd to 6.1 percent, from five percent last month, according to an announcement by the Australian Securities Exchange.
The acquisition of further shares pushed the Abu Dhabi airline closer to the 10 percent limit approved by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline paid $10.6m for more than 24,000 additional shares over the past three weeks, according to the ASX document.
Virgin Atlantic is part owned by British billionaire Richard Branson and Air New Zealand.
Etihad is making acquisitions in a bid to compete with larger rivals Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline, which are increasingly challenging European, Asian and Australian carriers on long-haul routes.
The Abu Dhabi carrier in December raised its stake in airberlin, Europe’s sixth-largest airline, from 2.9 percent to 29.2 percent for $95m.
In May, it acquired a three percent stake in the Irish no-frills carrier Aer Lingus and in January bought a 40 percent stake in Air Seychelles.