A few weeks ago we reported that IAG, BA’s parent, had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to launching a full takeover.
On Friday morning, Norwegian issued a statement to say that IAG had made two formal bids to take control of Norwegian. Norwegian has rejected both of them “on the basis that they undervalued NAS and its prospects”.
This is, of course, a very similar situation to what happened with Aer Lingus. Various initial bids were rejected until IAG made a series of concessions and guarantees that were attractive to the Irish Government.
It is a different game this time. The 72-year CEO of Norwegian, Bjorn Kjos, has a 27% shareholding and it will be virtually impossible for IAG to acquire 50.1% without his consent. This is why the Norwegian share price fell on Friday rather than rising, which is what you would expect to happen if the possibility of a juicy knock-out bid was expected.
IAG is not known for overpaying, and Kjos is clearly – at least in public – determined not to sell unless he achieves what others see as an unrealistic valuation. IAG may have to settle for its existing 4.6% stake and wait to see if Norwegian hits serious financial trouble.
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