The Chinese HNA Group which in the past couple of years have been busy in expanding their aviation portfolio, are reported to be looking at the UK-based airline, Monarch Airlines which
has its main base at London Luton Airport.
easjet is also said to be interested in taking over complete control of Monarch.
It seems that the HNA Group is not the only one interested in taking a stake, if not all, in the UK passenger charter airline.
Sources state that HNA has asked Rothschild’s to advise them on a possible stake or takeover of Monarch. Discussions are said to be in their early stages but the information is that the Chinese have already had meetings with the management of the UK leisure carrier.
European Commission rules however restrict any foreign shareholding in Monarch to a maximum of 49 percent.
There are said to be other interested parties apart from HNA and easyjet who want Monarch.
HNA on a European buying trip
The Chinese conglomerate which has holdings in various aviation sectors, the latest being the takeover of the worldwide airport handler, Swissport, seems to be interested in other carriers in Europe.
They already have a 48 percent holding in the French regional carrier, Aigle Azur which is based at Paris Orly airport.
Discussions between HNA and Air Europa on possible buy-in to the Spanish carrier have been going back and forth for well over a year.
Present owners wish to sell off their holding.
The UK-based Greybull Capital which took a 90 percent stake in Monarch in 2014 from its founders, the Swiss-Italian Mantegazzas family, has indicated that they now want to sell off their asset.
Monarch Airlines has made a positive turn-around during the past two years and Greybull has appointed the Deutsche Bank to look closely at the airline’s European growth potential or options to sell or merge with another carrier.
easyjet, according to a report in the English Sunday Times newspaper, has expressed their interest in taking all of Monarch Airlines and its associated assets.
Whether this is just rumor or based on discussions between both carriers, is hard to tell.
Monarch which in the “old days“ also operated long-haul flights, now concentrates on leisure destinations mainly in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel.
The carrier operates a fleet of 34 Airbus aircraft. Twenty-five A321-200s and nine A320-200’.
John Mc Donag