In the current era, airlines generally thrive when they're massive in size with global reach. Virgin Australia has six long-haul airplanes, making it tiny compared to Qantas. A transpacific joint venture with Delta Air Line helps, but it's not enough.
Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd., the airline part-owned by HNA Group Co., ditched the idea of a privatization to end years of speculation that major shareholders would attempt a buyout.
After discussions with the airline’s largest investors, Virgin Australia’s board said Wednesday it had decided against a privatization. The carrier, which has a market value of A$2.2 billion ($1.7 billion), raised the possibility of delisting in November. Four major investors own almost all the stock, which has never recovered from a slump during the financial crisis.
Virgin Australia’s ownership structure is almost unheard of among modern-day airlines. HNA, Nanshan Group, Etihad and Singapore Airlines Ltd. each own about 20 percent of the carrier and no single investor has ultimate control. HNA, for its part, is seeking to sell assets to repay borrowings after a debt-fueled buying spree.
Instead of a buyout, Virgin is offering to mop up shareholders with less than A$500 of stock. Those investors will get 30 cents for each share, costing the airline just A$5 million. Virgin closed at 26 cents on Tuesday.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.
Photo credit: Virgin Australia has among the world's better business class cabins. But it only has six long-haul planes, and that's hardly enough to compete in 2018. Virgin Australia