The German government and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are inching closer to a bailout deal as opposition to the terms from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition recedes.
While discussions about the details of the government stake continue, officials expect to agree with Lufthansa as early as the end of this week, according to people familiar with the deliberations. Germany has also entered into informal talks with the European Commission to move along the planned 9 billion-euro ($9.8 billion) bailout package aimed at keeping the airline aloft, according to some of the people.
Among demands by European regulators, in accordance with new subsidy rules outlined last week, is that the government dispose of its stake again after no more than six years.
While talks have progressed, details could still change and talks could stretch into next week, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.
The step forward comes after the two sides came closer to an agreement on government appointments to the carrier’s supervisory board, the people said. Berlin is prepared to nominate neutral representatives to the panel to limit the political influence on strategic decisions, a proposal that Lufthansa is prepared to accept, they said.
But both parties are still haggling over the government taking a 25% plus-one share stake in Lufthansa. It’s an element on which the Finance and Economy Ministries insist to secure veto powers, prevent possible hostile takeovers of the carrier and generate a financial return for injecting capital, some of the people said. Lufthansa and representatives for the government declined to comment.
Lufthansa is running out of time and money, burning through 800 million euros each month after the coronavirus grounded most of its fleet. The carrier will double the number of active jets to 160 from June 1, and stands to lose more money if the tentative return to flying isn’t profitable. Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr last week said the company had about 4 billion euros in cash remaining.
The planned aid package would also include loans and a so-called silent stake similar to preferred stock. The state-owned shares may be issued at their nominal value, providing the government with a deep discount on its investment.
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