Qatar Airways Acquires 9.61 Pct Of Cathay Pacific

Qatar Airways has just acquired 9.61 per cent of Hong Kong's flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, making it the third-largest shareholder in the Asian airline behind Swire Pacific Limited and Air China Limited, which together hold 74.99 per cent of the company's shares.

Qatar Airways will purchase the stake for HK$5.16 billion (€570 million) from Kingboard Chemical Holdings and associates, according to a statement, becoming Cathay's third-largest investor after local conglomerate Swire Pacific, with a 45 per cent holding, and Air China Ltd. with nearly 30 per cent.

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.

Qatar Airways has been trying to compensate for this lost traffic and revenue by increasingly looking at worldwide markets to expand its reach.

Qatar Airways already has a 20% investment in International Airlines Group (IAG) - the owner of Aer Lingus.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akar Al Baker said in a statement: "Qatar Airways is very pleased to complete its financial investment in Cathay Pacific". On Monday, Air China said that it looked at the purchase by Qatar Airways in Cathay as positive and it hoped shareholders would work to find synergies. It also removed its CX code from Qatar-operated flights beyond Doha.

Cathay posted a wider than expected loss of HK$2.05 billion in the first half because of fierce competition in the aviation industry.

Cathay, and others, have battled the rapid worldwide expansion of Chinese airlines and the ongoing rise of Middle East carriers offering long-haul to long-haul connections through their hubs, which have bitten into previously lucrative markets.

Further, the economic slowdown - both in China and elsewhere - had led to a significant reduction in premium corporate travel in business and first class, particularly on long-haul routes.

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