Qatar Airways on verge of buying 35 pct of Cargolux

Wed Jun 8, 2011 6:17am EDT

* Qatar Airways to take 35 percent stake

* Deal to be signed on Thursday

* Qatar Airways seen as long-term investor

BRUSSELS, June 8 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways is on the verge of buying a 35 percent stake in Cargolux, providing a long-term investor for Europe's largest all-freight airline.

A Cargolux spokeswoman said on Wednesday that a deal would be signed on Thursday, with Qatar Airways acquiring holdings that the Luxembourg state and other groups bought during the economic crisis.

The Luxembourg government and other groups took over Swissair Group's 33.7 percent stake in privately held Cargolux as a temporary measure at the end of 2009 after the Swiss airline went into liquidation.

Since then Cargolux has been looking for a long-term investor to take on the stake.

"(Qatar Airways) have very ambitious growth plans overall, but they also want to become a major player in air cargo so we clearly view them as being a strategic long-term partner," said the Cargolux spokeswoman.

A report in FT Deutschland published on Wednesday put the value of the stake at 150-200 million euros ($220-$293.4 million). The company declined to comment on the price of the transaction.

Qatar Airways, half-owned by the Gulf Arab state's sovereign wealth Qatari Investment Authority, said in May it expected to sign a deal with Cargolux. [ID:nLDE74115V] (Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ($1=.6817 euros)