Skift Take

Is this the end of the story? We're willing to bet that this one still has more twists and turns to come.

International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has distanced itself from making any more bids for low-cost rival Norwegian.

In a stock market statement, the company said “it does not intend to make an offer” for Norwegian and that “in due course” it would sell its 3.93 per cent shareholding.

The phrasing leaves some room for manoeuvre if circumstances change, and IAG has not set a divestment date. IAG CEO Willie Walsh previously gave a deadline of August 2019 and his comments at a recent event in Dublin suggest he is still keeping a close eye on the situation.

“I like Norwegian. I like the brand. I like what Bjorn [CEO Bjorn Kjos] had done,” Walsh said, according to the Irish Independent.

IAG’s interest in Norwegian surfaced in April. Norwegian said it rejected two approaches and that other airlines were also interested.

Norwegian endured a tough 2018, and at the end of last year issued a statement about its financial stability to try and reassure investors. It has cut back some of its routes and sold some of its aircraft.

News of the withdrawal of interest sent shares in Norwegian tumbling. IAG, on the other hand, saw its share price rise.

In response to IAG’s news, chairman of the Norwegian board, Bjørn Kise, said: “We have been made aware of IAG’s intentions to sell its shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

“Norwegian’s plans and strategy remain unchanged. The company’s goal is to continue building a sustainable business to the benefit of its customers, employees and shareholders.”

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Tags: british airways, europe, iag, low-cost carriers, m&a, mergers, norwegian

Photo credit: British Airways aircraft at London City airport. The airline's parent company, IAG, has distanced itself from bidding for Norwegian. British Airways

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