© Reuters. THE DIRECTORS OF NIKI CHOSE TWO CANDIDATES
by Klaus Lauer
BERLIN (Reuters) – IAG, owner of British Airways, Iberia, and the carrier’s low-cost Vueling, is one of four candidates selected for the final stages of the discussions on the transfer of assets of the airline in filing of balance sheet Niki, a-t-on learned from three sources close to the matter.
The carrier has made an offer on the entire set of Niki and is considered the favourite to win, have added the three sources. If no agreement is reached with IAG, it is possible that Niki is distributed between several buyers.
The british tour operator Thomas Cook and the founder of Niki, the former world champion Formula One Niki Lauda, are also among the four candidates, said Niki Lauda in the German daily Handelsblatt.
The judicial administrators of Niki are aimed at an agreement by the end of next week, said on Friday one of them. They did not, however, have not confirmed the identity of the candidates to the redemption of Niki.
Niki Lauda, who created the airline in his name in 2003, was said to have been informed that a decision had to be taken on the 28th of December.
Niki, a subsidiary of Air Berlin, has filed for bankruptcy last week, Lufthansa (DE:LHAG) to have waived the purchase, for reasons of competition, which resulted in a capital fleet on the ground and left without a return flight of thousands of passengers.
Since then, the administrators seek a new buyer for the assets of the company before it loses its slots for takeoff and landing, its main asset.
Six candidates have submitted bids before the deadline of Thursday, five of which are binding, ” says Lucas Flöther, director of Niki, in a statement released Friday without further details.
“The candidates are very interested, and I am convinced that it will be possible to save a large part of the activity and jobs in Austria and Germany”, he adds.
A German newspaper reports that Tuifly, the airline’s tour operator, TUI, is another candidate for the takeover of Niki and the carrier swiss PrivatAir showed interest.
Air Berlin, also in bankruptcy, IAG, Thomas Cook and Tuifly have not wished to speak. PrivatAir his side was not immediately available.
According to Lucas Flöther, all the selected candidates for further discussion were said to be willing to make a loan to Niki, in addition to the purchase price, so that the airline is still operational by the completion of the transaction.
The head of the committee of company of Niki, Stefan Tankovits, added that the employees of the airline, would receive their pay for December.
If the directors of Niki fail to conclude an agreement on the assets of Niki before the end of December, the carrier could lose its operating license and its slots for takeoff and landing.
According to Lucas Flöther, the regulators, the austrian, however, may be granted an additional period of a few days to different parties by the end of next week.
(with Kirsti Knolle in Vienna, Paul Sandle in London and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Wilfrid Exbrayat and Claude Chendjou for the French service, edited by Benoit Van Overstraeten)