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.


‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.