SAS has today issued the following statement in relation to the Braathens acquisition:
The Norwegian Competition Authority has today issued its preliminary evaluation of SAS's potential acquisition of Braathens. This states that the Authority will take action against the acquisition, that is, it opposes its implementation. The Competition Authority bases its evaluation mainly on the fact that it has not been proved to a sufficient degree that Braathens is a bankrupt company.
Braathens, in turn, had approached SAS because the company believed it was in a difficult financial situation, which it would not be able to survive. Braathens regarded the only solution to be SAS's intervention as an owner - in order to save jobs, the Norwegian civil aviation sector and the offering to Norwegian customers. When SAS entered into an agreement with
the majority owners in Braathens, it was on this basis, as well as the opportunity to adapt the Norwegian air travel structure to what is common in Europe.
Braathens' financial situation has been the main feature of the argument that has been made in relation to the Competition Authority. There have been attempts to make it clear that if SAS is not given the possibility to
become an owner in the company, Braathens will not survive and jobs will be lost.
We note that the Competition Authority, in its preliminary decision, does not share Braathens' interpretation of its situation.
SAS respects the fact that the Competition Authority has as its task to safeguard future competition in the Norwegian air travel sector. However, the situation is now such that the Competition Authority believes that
Braathens can survive without SAS. This is in contrast to the basis for Braathens' approach to SAS.
If the Competition Authority's evaluation of Braathens' situation is correct, the basis for the implementation of the agreement between SAS and Braathens' owners is essentially nonexistent.
Initially, it must be made clear which interpretation of Braathens' financial situation is correct. This will be the foundation for future discussions between the parties. If there is uncertainty in the findings of the Competition Authority in this issue, it is natural that a new body
should decide the matter. In such a situation, SAS intends to appeal the final decision by the Competition Authority.
The intervention by the Norwegian Competition Authority will restrict and regulate the market - a regression, unique in Europe, to the time before
free competition was introduced in the aviation industry. Accordingly, SAS wishes to do everything possible to avoid such unreasonable regulatory