A new investor for the insolvent Air Berlin subsidiary Niki has been found at the last minute in the International Airline Group (IAG), German media reported on Thursday.
IAG, which owns the airlines British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, had already registered its interest in Niki following Air Berlin’s financial collapse during the past summer, but ultimately lost the resulting public tender to Germany‘s aviation market leader Lufthansa.
However, Niki was abruptly forced to declare bankruptcy when Lufthansa recently withdrew its offer for the firm in the face of persistent resistance to the merger from European antitrust authorities.
Air Berlin had faced a narrow time window to find a new buyer, before Vienna-based Niki lost its valuable starting- and landing rights at European airports to their respective operators for re-allocation.
According to the newspaper “Bild”, IAG was able to beat competition in the tender with a bid of 40 million euros (47.8 million U.S. dollars) for Niki.
IAG had previously announced that it would enhance its presence at Vienna International Airport (VIE), and is consequently anticipated to make greater use of the Austrian capital as a regional hub for its budget airline Vueling moving forward.
Niki insolvency administrator Lucas Floether confirmed that the company’s board of creditors had reached a decision on Thursday to progress with exclusive negotiations with only one of the interested parties.
Floether said he was still legally unable to reveal the identity of the successful bidder at this point, but announced that a final sales contract would be drafted in the following days.