Virgin Blue`s owner Sir Richard Branson has rejected reports he is selling the discount airline to the Tesna consortium, although Virgin Group and Tesna today confirmed that further discussions will take place in Australia this week between the two groups.
The discussions will involve Virgin Blue`s Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey.
Sir Richard Branson said, ?ga further meeting between the principals was held on Sunday which was again very constructive.?h Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox also said ?gWe agree that our discussions with Sir Richard have been worthwhile and we look forward to further discussions.?h
Both parties noted that any meetings are held on the clear understanding that Tesna remains committed to the completion of the sale agreement with the Ansett administrators regardless of the outcome of the discussions. A press release stated that the parties will not conduct these discussions through the media and there will be no further announcements until the discussions are concluded.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it has heard nothing from Ansett or the Tesna group on the latest meeting but says it will review any merger deal if and when it happens.
Meanwhile the Tesna group has said that its purchase of Ansett would go ahead, and committed itself to buying 30 new Airbus planes, with an option to buy 10 more. The purchase announcement came as Prime Minister John Howard said he was concerned about the deal falling apart and warned that his Government would not bail out Ansett if the buy-out failed.
In Toulouse, France, Airbus Industrie said Tesna had signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to buy 30 A320 and A321 airliners, with delivery to begin later this year. A Tesna statement said the deal was worth more than AUD 3 billion. There was no comment from Tesna on whether there was an escape clause, should the Tesna takeover of Ansett not proceed.