Press: Aussie govt won’t block bid for Qantas

Prime Minister John Howard said in an interview with Australian Financial Review that he is not in favour of using foreign investment rules to block an 11.1 bln aud for Qantas Airways Ltd by the Macquarie Bank Ltd-led Airline Partners Australia (APA) consortium.

Howard warned of a “savage reaction” from the business community if he interfered with the airline’s management and insisted it is not his government’s job to dictate how Qantas shareholders choose to sell their private property.

He also said he will not seek to cut the deal’s heavy debt levels which is one of the issues causing concern in government ranks.

APA’s 5.60 aud a share offer has been recommended by the Qantas board but requires government approval to proceed.