Air France Prepares Bid For Iberia - Report

September 26, 2007

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Air France KLM is planning to team up with two Spanish firms to bid for Spain's Iberia against a group led by private equity group TPG, Expansion newspaper said on Wednesday.

The Air France KLM offer would keep 51 percent of Iberia in Spanish hands, allowing the airline to keep flying certain routes in Spain and abroad, the newspaper reported.

On Monday, the head of Air France KLM, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, said the airline would not do a deal with Iberia or Italy's Alitalia unless it was "strongly creative" of value. In July, the airline said it might be interested in Iberia.

TPG, in a consortium with British Airways and Spanish firms Ibersuizas, Vista Capital and Quercus Equity, has been talking to Iberia management for months and has made an indicative offer of 3.60 euros a share.

Iberia stock closed at 3.25 euros on Tuesday.

Expansion said Air France KLM would bring on board two Spanish family investment vehicles -- Torreal, which belongs to Juan Abello, and Planeta, owned by the Lara family, the lead shareholder in Barcelona-based airline Vueling.

Planeta declined to comment. Torreal was not immediately available to comment.

(Reuters)