Qatar Airways remains on the hunt for a stake in discount carrier IndiGo to add to its portfolio of holdings after failing to buy shares of India’s largest airline at the time of last year’s initial public offering.
“I cannot force the owners to sell a stake to me,” chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said Wednesday. “But if they are interested, Qatar Airways will be very interested.”
IndiGo is controlled by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.
The second-biggest Gulf carrier sought to acquire a holding in IndiGo via the Qatar Investment Authority during the IPO, overcoming a bar on direct involvement from another airline, but didn’t have time to obtain necessary approvals, al-Baker told reporters at the India Aviation air show in Hyderabad.
The disposal of a 10% IndiGo stake in October’s sale raised about 30bn rupees ($449mn), valuing the airline at $4.2bn and making it Asia’s third-largest low-cost carrier. Qatar Airways has long been keen on a stake in the only Indian airline to make a profit in each of the past seven years as it seeks more exposure to one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets.
The Gulf airline itself hasn’t been granted the same traffic rights in India as other Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways - which has a stake in Jet Airways - and has raised the issue with the authorities, al-Baker said.
Qatar Airways has said it aims to make two investments this year. It already has a 10% stake in British Airways parent IAG SA and has signed an outline accord for an investment in Meridiana SpA, which operates out of Olbia, Sardinia.
The Italian deal will require job cuts, and other conditions will have to be met before it’s completed, al-Baker said, declining to elaborate. Meridiana could cut 900 posts, according to Italian newswire ANSA.
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