June 24, 2013 / 7:02 AM / in 6 years

Finnair says CEO sees pros and cons in an SAS merger

A Finnair airplane is docked at the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw February 6, 2012. Finnair will present its Quarterly results on February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

COPENHAGEN/HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnair (FIA1S.HE) said its new chief executive Pekka Vauramo saw both advantages and disadvantages in a possible merger with Scandinavian airline SAS (SAS.ST), after a Danish report said he saw potential benefits in such a deal.

Business daily Borsen quoted Vauramo as saying “our largest shareholder is currently thinking along those lines” of a possible merger.

Vauramo was hired earlier this year to complete a turnaround started by predecessor Mika Vehvilainen.

“The comments have been taken out of context and mistinterpreted,” a Finnair spokeswoman said. “It was a very speculative question, and Finnair gave pros and cons. The story clearly leaves out the cons that were stated.”

Asked whether a Finnair merger with SAS was a possibility, she declined to comment. SAS was not available for comment.

While Finnair became profitable for the first time in four years last year after cutting costs, it faces tough competition from discount carriers and analysts expect further consolidation.

The Finnish state is the company’s biggest shareholder.

The company’s chairman Klaus Heinemann said in late March that the state should reduce its controlling stake in Finnair and allow it to seek more alliance and M&A deals.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Louise Ireland

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