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Wed 8 May 2013 10:18 AM

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Qatar in move to buy stake in BA's parent firm

Doha reportedly interested in Spanish lender Bankia's 12% stake in airline giant IAG

Qatar in move to buy stake in BA's parent firm
(AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar has approached International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, with an informal offer to buy Spanish lender Bankia’s 12 percent stake and become the company’s largest shareholder, it has been reported.

Qatar had approached IAG to ask whether the company would welcome it as a shareholder, the Financial Times (FT) newspaper said citing two people close to the matter.

The FT report cited one of those people as saying the initial approach was made last year, though it wasn't clear which Qatari entity would buy the Bankia stake.

A third person familiar with the matter told the paper that IAG had informed Bankia of the interest from Qatar about three months ago.

"This is an issue for Bankia and we're not going to comment further," an IAG spokeswoman told Reuters.

Bankia had declined to comment to the FT, saying it would seek the best possible price for its non-core assets.

Paolo De Renzis, area BA’s Middle East Area Commercial Manager, declined to comment on the report when contacted by Arabian Business.

Earlier this year, Bankia - the biggest failed bank in Spain's history - hired Rothschild to help sell its stakes in companies including power group Iberdrola and insurer Mapfre, as the bank rebuilds its capital.

Links between British Airways, Iberia and Qatar are set to increase this year as state-owned Qatar Airways will be fully integrated into the Oneworld alliance from September.

* With Reuters

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