Air France-KLM board to “closely monitor” the Dutch government’s increased shareholding

Air France-KLM Group’s board will “closely monitor” the surprise move by the Netherlands government to more than double its stake in the Franco-Dutch airline to 12.68%.

In a shares swoop valued at an estimated €700m, the Dutch state increased its original 5.8% stake without any consultation with either the airline board or the French government, the latter holding a 14% share tranche in the carrier.

Reuters reports that the move by the Dutch is intended to ensure that Air France would keep key routes open at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and that KLM “would retain the partial independence it has enjoyed since the airlines merged in 2004”.

The share purchase came after finance officials in the Netherlands met with Ben Smith, the carrier’s new chief executive. 

In a press statement, the airline board said: “Following a meeting on February 27, the Air France-KLM Group Board of Directors acknowledges that the Dutch state has acquired a 12.68% stake in the share capital of the Air France-KLM Group, without any consultation.

“This acquisition occurs after discussions with all stakeholders including the Dutch state, and the unanimous approval by the Group of the managerial organization under the leadership of Group CEO Benjamin Smith, in a spirit of open dialogue and discussion.”

The group is also “ready to confirm to the Dutch government commitments to continue strengthening Schiphol’s development as a European hub and to support KLM’s development”.

The board of directors will “closely monitor the consequences of this new participation on the Group, its employees, its governance structure and its market value”.

The board will ensure that the initiative “will not negatively impact the new working dynamic of the group and its companies, recently initiated by the Group chief executive”.

It added: “The Air France-KLM board calls for all managers and staff to focus on commercial developments and operational improvements to help position the Air France-KLM Group as the leading air transport group in Europe.”

 

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