AFP, published Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 4:08 pm
The German state sold all of its remaining stakes in the capital of Europe’s leading air transport group Lufthansa, where it had entered up to 20% in 2020 during a massive bailout in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Economic Stabilization Fund, a public body that held these shares, “has sold its latest holdings to (…) international investors,” it said Tuesday evening.
Among these is the German billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne, whose holding company was thus able to “bring its total stake in Lufthansa to about 17.5%”, compared with the previous 15%, according to a statement sent to the ‘Afp.
Mr. Kühne, owner of the logistics giant Kühne + Nagel, was thus able to consolidate his position as the airline’s largest shareholder.
“This underlines the positive vision that Kühne Holding has for the company,” added the statement.
Kühne + Nagel is one of the main customers of Lufthansa Cargo, the freight subsidiary of the German group.
The withdrawal of the German state from the capital “leads to a positive conclusion the stabilization of Lufthansa” which finds itself “completely in private hands again”, for its part welcomed the CEO of the group, Carsten Spohr, in a statement .
Lufthansa was saved from bankruptcy by the German government in June 2020, when it was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Berlin has granted the group a massive € 9 billion aid plan, including public entry into the capital of up to 20%.
But this participation has always been considered temporary by the public authorities, having to stop as soon as the situation improves.
This operation also comes after several sales of shares, which had already lowered the public presence to 14.09% in 2021 and to 9.92% last July.
The sale of these latter shares brought the State 1.07 billion euros, for which the operation was generally profitable, with a “positive balance of 760 million euros”.
“The government’s plan has successfully helped the company overcome this crisis,” the stabilization fund said in its statement.
The group, which owns Austrian, Swiss, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, is actually doing better, having suffered huge losses during the pandemic.
The company reported net income for the first time in more than two years in the second quarter of this year, driven notably by its freight business.
After cutting over 30,000 jobs since 2020, Lufthansa also plans to hire 5,000 people this year and an equivalent number in 2023.