Takeover rumours halt trading of SAS shares

Trading in shares of Scandinavian airline SAS was halted Friday afternoon by the Stockholm stock exchange following the stock’s dramatic rise on rumours that Germany’s Lufthansa is considering a takeover of the beleaguered airline.

SAS shares rocketed up more than 11 percent by the early afternoon on a day when the overall OMXS-index was up 1.3 percent.

When trading stopped, the stock was valued at 53.25 kronor ($7.86) per share.

According to the Dagens Industri newspaper, neither Lufthansa or SAS were willing to comment on the rumours first reported by the Reuters news agency.

Nor would a SAS spokesperson comment to the TT news agency on whether or not the halt in trading was ordered by the airline.

Information about the stoppage from the stock exchange is sketchy.

“It’s the stock exchange which has taken the decision, it’s always we who make such decisions,” said stock exchange spokesperson Torsten Örtengren to TT.

“More information will be coming later,” he added, but declined to specify if he meant later on Friday or some other day.

Later on Friday, SAS issued a comment confirming it is entertaining offers.

“Regarding today’s speculations in the media SAS confirms that it is in the process of evaluating various structural possibilities for the Group. Within this process SAS is conducting talks about a possible structural solution,” the airline said in a statement.

It must be emphasized that no decision has been taken.

The Swedish state owns 21.4 percent of SAS, while the Denmark and Norway each own 14.3 percent.


SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights

Scandinavian airline SAS narrowed its losses in the second quarter, the company said Thursday, as it set its hopes on an easing of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

SAS announces reduced loss and pins hopes on summer flights
A SAS aircraft taking off in Paris. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The earnings report came a day after the governments of Sweden and Denmark announced another round of aid to the ailing carrier.

From February to April, SAS booked a net loss of 2.43 billion Swedish kronor ($292 million, 240 million euros) — 30 percent smaller than in the second quarter last year.

The company also reported an improved operating profit “for the first time since the pandemic’s outbreak, both year-on-year and compared with the previous quarter,” pointing to its cost cutting efforts.

However, the number of passengers in the period declined by 140,000 compared to the first quarter, to 857,000.

This caused revenue to fall to 1.93 billion kronor, a 15 percent drop from the preceding quarter and 63 percent from a year earlier.

“The increase in vaccination rates provides some hope for the relaxation of restrictions, and an increase in demand ahead of the important summer season,” chief executive Karl Sandlund said in a statement.

However, the CEO also noted that “many customers are now increasingly choosing to book their tickets much closer to their travel dates, which makes it difficult to predict demand during the summer.”

SAS also said it expected claims from passengers of up to 150 million kronor after a European court ruled in March that customers should be compensated over disruptions due to a pilots’ strike in 2019.

After cutting 5,000 jobs last year — representing 40 percent of its workforce — SAS announced Wednesday an additional credit line of three billion kronor from the Danish and Swedish governments, its main shareholders, to get through the crisis.

The airline received a similar loan and a capital increase last year.

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