BA owner IAG lands $613 million Air Europa deal, website says

MADRID (Reuters) - British Airways and Iberia owner IAG has agreed to buy Spain’s Air Europa for 500 million euros ($613 million) with payment deferred until 2026, website El Confidencial reported.

FILE PHOTO: Iberia and Air Europa airplanes are parked at a tarmack at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Madrid, Spain, December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera

IAG, its Spanish unit Iberia and Air Europa owner Globalia declined to comment on Friday on the El Confidencial report, which cited unnamed sources saying that the deal was on Thursday at half the original offer price.

After originally agreeing to buy Air Europa for 1 billion euros in November 2019, IAG but has been pushing to cut the price as the coronavirus pandemic threw the airline industry into crisis.

International travel restrictions have brought the global transport sector to a grinding halt, pushing several airlines to rely on state aid.

For the sale to proceed, the Spanish government must waive its right to appoint two directors to Air Europa’s board, one of the conditions of a 475 million euro state aid package approved last month.

Spanish brokers JB Capital viewed this potential new deal as largely positive due to the payment deferral.

“We saw a potential cash outflow for IAG in the following months as a bigger risk for this transaction, given the current uncertainty in the aviation industry,” JB Capital said.

El Confidencial said the reason for the deferral was to give Air Europa time to repay the state aid package.

Spain’s state-owned industrial holding company SEPI, which provided the funds for Air Europa, declined to comment.

JB Capital also said, however, that the potential agreement “might be viewed negatively by the market” as the sum reportedly to be paid would be above 350 million to 400 million euros previously reported by the same news outlet.

IAG shares were down almost 1% in London.

Reporting by Nathan Allen and Jesús Aguado in Madrid; additional reporting by Laurence Frost in London; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Alexander Smith