The protracted sale process of Slovenian flag-carrier Adria Airways has taken an interesting turn. Such detail is no doubt common-knowledge throughout Slovenia but to overseas pundits speculating from afar regarding the future of the airline, the caveat as a condition of sale of Adria stating a company based outside the European Union cannot take more than a 49% holding, leaving the majority-stake within Slovenian sovereign territory, makes intriguing reading.
Will this seemingly minor-detail carry disproportionate weight, limiting or indeed increasing the amount of interested parties? Instructive quotes attributed to Adria’s CEO Mark Anzur defiantly stating the airline would survive without an investment partner seem to somewhat contradict the incumbent administration’s non-negotiable stance of the airline being sold, it being one of the ‘gang of fifteen’ state-operated companies earmarked for privatisation. Whilst the government’s fervent wish for Adria to be sold will see every possible permutation exhausted before defeat is admitted, it is not a given that all fifteen companies will attract the requisite levels of interest or financially acceptable bids. What the state’s response to such scenarios would be – which for now are purely hypothetical – is impossible to say.
With a controlling majority-shareholding needing to stay within Slovenia should an investor from outside the European Union be found, it would seem unlikely that an Etihad, Emirates or Qatar Airways of this world would be interested in such a proposal. With bids from within Slovenia similarly improbable, I anticipate any interested parties to be based in Central Europe with the likes of Austrian Airways, Alitalia and Lufthansa, purely because of geographic proximity, to head the queue but in the light of the Lufthansa-owned Germanwings tragedy in the French Alps, their priorities for the time being understandably lie elsewhere.
It would in many ways be refreshing for Adria Airways’ ownership to stay wholly within the country’s borders, be it retained by the state or under private auspices. Such synopses seem doubtful but craving a focus on growth and financial self-determination, Adria will hope that whatever the future holds it can once again operate a fleet a planes that it owns, rather than the current untenable situation of selling and leasing back many aircraft within its fleet.
Further reading on this subject can be viewed at: Ex-Yugoslav Aviation Blog: Adria Airways looks to the future