Turkish Airlines has denied reports it is interested in buying a stake in Virgin Australia.
Bloomberg reported on August 1, 2019, that Turkish Airlines was looking at HNA Group’s 13% stake in Virgin Australia.
Turkish Airlines has denied it is looking at buying HNA Group’s stake in Virgin Australia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
HNA Group is reportedly open to selling its stake as the Chinese conglomerate looks to reduce its debt levels.
The story was quickly picked up by mainstream Australian media and aviation websites.
Initially, both Virgin Australia and Turkish Airlines refused to comment. Virgin Australia said they did not comment on shareholder matters.
But Blue Swan Daily later reported that Turkish Airlines was not planning to snap up HNA’s stake. The rumours “do not reflect the truth”, said a Turkish Airlines spokesperson. Bloomberg also clarified its initial story.
Australia is a gap in the Turkish Airlines network. The airline flies to 125 countries – the most of any airline in the world. It recently commenced flights into Bali but hasn’t quite made the extra mile down to Australia.
Virgin Australia, meanwhile, is considered a good airline in need of some firm guidance. The airline, which to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Bali, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and around the South Pacific in addition to a domestic service has a complicated ownership structure.
In addition to HNA Group, Etihad Airways owns 21%, Singapore Airlines owns 19.8%, Nanshan Group owns 22.4% and Virgin Group owns 8%. The airline is publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange but is thinly traded.
Air New Zealand also had a significant stake but infamously sold out to Nanshan after losing patience with Virgin’s continuing losses and lack of strategy
The flurry of media interest may have scared Turkish Airlines away from the negotiating table. One thing’s for sure, while Virgin has such a messy ownership composition, the airline will continue to struggle.