Czech/Icelandic bid for troubled national carrier

Czech/Icelandic bid for troubled national carrier

The Czech/Icelandic consortium Unimex-Travel Service has submitted its bid to buy a 91.5 percent stake in the national carrier Czech Airlines. Unimex is a Czech financial firm while charter airline Travel Service has Iceland Air Group Holding as a major shareholder.

Unimex-Travel Service, the only bidder in the latest public tender, has offered one billion Czech koruna (Euro 40 million) for the heavily indebted airline, far below what the Czech government said it expected earlier this year. A total of four bidders, including Russia’s Aeroflot, applied for the deal in the first round at the beginning of the year.

The bid is contingent on the Czech government paying up an accumulated accounting loss, the consortium revealed in a statement. Analysts estimate that the loss is about CZK700 million.

Currently CSA’s equity is negative according to Czech accounting standards, which are stricter than international financial reporting standards, as the Czech standards don’t take into account partially paid leasing contracts for aircraft when calculating equity capital.

Unimex-Travel Service and Air France-KLM were chosen by the Czech government in April, but Air France-KLM pulled out of the race in August citing tough times for the airline industry.

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The caretaker Czech government of Jan Fischer is likely to decide in about two weeks whether to accept the offer.

Czech Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance that includes Air France-KLM.