Qatar Airways buys 9.6% stake in Cathay Pacific

Javier Stokes
November 8, 2017

Qatar Airways will purchase the stake for HK$5.16 billion ($662 million) from Kingboard Chemical Holdings Ltd. and associates, according to a statement, becoming Cathay's third-largest investor after local conglomerate Swire Pacific Ltd. with a 45 percent holding and Air China Ltd. with nearly 30 percent.

One of the reasons the Qatari investment is being seen in poor light is the fact that the Arab nation has been accused by several of its neighbors of allegedly supporting terrorism groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and of destabilizing the Gulf region.

Qatar Airways has just announced its acquisition of a minority stake in Cathay Pacific, with the Gulf airline set to become Cathay Pacific's third largest shareholder.

The airline has been unable to fly to the previously lucrative markets of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as part of an airspace rights dispute with neighbours, and has been looking to invest elsewhere to broaden its reach.

Qatar's flag carrier had earlier announced an agreement to purchase 378,188,000 shares in Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, equivalent to approximately 9.6% of the total issued share capital, from Hong Kong-based Kingboard Chemical Holdings.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: "Qatar Airways is very pleased to complete its financial investment in Cathay Pacific".

Cathay, which last year reported its first annual loss in almost a decade, is carrying out a three-year corporate overhaul that includes laying off hundreds of workers as it battles to keep up with intensifying competition from rival Asian carriers.

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Cathay did not put out a statement, but tweeted that the Swire Group and Air China continue to hold 74.9% of the airline.

"This may not necessarily be favourable for Cathay as it is facing operating challenges and undergoing transformation".

"This investment further supports Qatar Airways investment strategy, which already includes 20% investment in International Airlines Group, 10% investment in LATAM Airlines Group and 49% investment in Meridiana".

Qatar Airways Cargo, the world's third largest global cargo carrier, serves more than 60 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide via its Doha hub and also delivers freight to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations globally.

Kingboard Chemical, which has business interests in laminates, printed circuit boards and chemicals, said the company and two units, including Hong Kong-listed Kingboard Laminates Holdings, will together sell 378.19 million shares in Cathay Pacific at HK$13.65 apiece.

In other Qatar Airways-related news, The Times of India reported that a Qatar Airways Doha-Bali flight was diverted to Chennai after an "intoxicated" Iranian woman used her sleeping husband's thumb to open his mobile phone - and discovered messages that she believed showed he was cheating on her.

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