Air NZ dismiss speculations about taking Virgin private

Air NZ dismiss speculations about taking Virgin privateLending a deaf ear to the recent speculations Air New Zealand says it has no intention of taking Virgin Australia private. Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said it was important that Virgin remain independent as a listed entity.

Some analysts are of the opinion that Virgin Australia's three largest shareholders - Air New Zealand (22.9 per cent), Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways (each with a 19.9 per cent stake) - were jostling for power and starting to cut deals as their shareholdings increased.

Among the three, Air New Zealand is the biggest shareholder in Virgin with 23 per cent and has approval to lift this to 25.9 per cent. Singapore Airlines and Etihad have 19.9 per cent each and Virgin founder Richard Branson has 10 per cent.

Australian Financial Review(AFR) said, "The most likely scenario is Air NZ and Singapore teaming up to take Virgin private and acquiring Branson's stake."

The stance of Air New Zealand buying into Virgin was to gain exposure to the large domestic market and help rationalise trans-tasman operations where competition is immense.

Luxon said his airline's decision was confirmed with the board last month.