British Airways owner IAG is considering a Norwegian takeover

British Airways owner IAG is considering a Norwegian takeover

The IAG Group, owners of British Airways and Iberia, has confirmed it has taken a 4.6 percent stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to beginning discussions about a possible acquisition.

Also, the carrier states that "Norwegian has not been in any discussions or dialogue of IAG about the matter".

That has provided IAG, formed in 2011 through the merger of traditional flag-carriers British Airways and Iberia and led by CEO Willie Walsh, with an opportunity, say analysts.

In a statement, Norwegian said: 'Norwegian has just been made aware that the International Airline Group (IAG) has acquired of 4.6pc of the shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

BA-owner IAG says considering making offer for Norwegian
BA-owner IAG says considering making offer for Norwegian

The budget airline is trying to crack the transatlantic market by undercutting established rivals but faces pressures to control costs and shore up its balance sheet.

Fast-growing Norwegian was forced to raise new equity in March to help fund its expansion and cope with higher fuel costs after warning of a larger than expected loss in the current quarter.

Shares in Norwegian Air - which is reportedly worth $1.2bn (£845m) - soared by 37% following Thursday's announcement.

Deals have included £99 flights from Edinburgh and Dublin to NY.

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Highlighting the hard state of Norwegian's finances, the airline last month raised $168 million in a share sale after warning of a larger than expected first-quarter loss.

'Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest worldwide aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth'.

"Norwegian had no prior knowledge of this acquisition before it was reported by the media mid-morning Thursday", the carrier said in its own statement.

Other legacy European airlines, along with the worldwide USA carriers Delta and American, have responded to the burgeoning low-priced transatlantic competition by offering no-frills, basic economy fares.

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Norwegian Air carries over 30 million passengers a year and last year struck an agreement so easyJet customers could access its long-haul routes.

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