SAS Sale Completed

SAS financeSAS plane in the air. Photo: SAS

Norway has completed the sales of SAS

The Ministry of Industry has sold its 37.8 million shares in SAS for about NOK 597 million.

The sale was made through an auction on Tuesday night, and corresponds to 9.88 per cent of the total number of shares in the company.

The price of the shares was fixed at 17.25 Swedish crowns, the Ministry reports in a press release on Wednesday morning. It is not stated who the buyers are, only that it regards both Norwegian and foreign investors.

Minister of Industry, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservatives), states that SAS has had a good development and believes this is a good time as any to sell the shares.

– There is no reason to believe that a change in ownership will affect jobs, grids or other operating conditions in the company. Today’s structure is already the result of commercial assessments by the company and not by state ownership, says Røe Isaksen.

The SAS share was traded at NOK 16.45 when the Oslo Stock Exchange ended trade on Tuesday. The state’s holding was therefore priced at just over NOK 620 million.

Several buyers

Aviation analyst at WinAir, Hans Jørgen Elnæs, tells NRK that the price could have been higher if there were only one buyer.

– The state probably did not have a large enough buyer in place to purchase the lot. They also added that shares amounting to a minimum of €100,000 could be purchased, which indicates that several financial institutions were involved. There may also be other airlines in the mix, but we will not know that before the stock exchange opens at 9 am CST, he says.

Elnæs on Tuesday told NTB that Denmark has been interested in strengthening its ownership in SAS for a long time.

– This is due to the fact that the Danish state controls most of Copenhagen Airport Kastrup. I think they are interested in getting a tighter grip on SAS to ensure that the airline remains a long-term and major player at Kastrup, says Elnæs.

Elnæs believes Sweden has not considered to be a buyer as the Swedish Government previously has sold down its ownership of the Scandinavian airline.

Makes SAS fleksible

The Danish equity analyst manager in Sydbank, Jacob Pedersen, believes Norway’s sales of stocks makes SAS more flexible.

– There will be fewer interests, and the company will be organizationally faster, more flexible in making decisions and perform these relatively quickly. It is important in the attempt to compete with other airlines, he told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

Facts about SAS

  • The Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS) was founded in 1946 after a merger of national airlines in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
  • At present, SAS has more than 800 daily departures. The company transports more than 29 million passengers a year to nearly 120 destinations in Europe, the US and Asia.
  • SAS is partly owned by private investors and partly by the Danish, Swedish and until Tuesday the Norwegian states. Swedish Rickard Gustafson has been the CEO since February 2011.
  • On Tuesday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry sold its 37.8 million shares in SAS for approximately NOK 597 million.
  • The sale was made through an auction process on Tuesday night, corresponding to 9.88 percent of the shares in the company. The price of the shares was fixed at 17.25 Swedish crowns.
  • The Swedish state also has the mandate to sell its SAS shares and Sweden has stated that they do not foresee being long-term owners of the company.
  • The company has had major financial problems in recent years but has struggled to get the economy back on track through several cost cutting plans.
  • As a result, the number of employees has decreased from around 35,000 in 2002 to about 10,000 in 2016/2017.

(Sources: SAS, Ritzau)


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today