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Source: SIA Is Not Interested In AN International

Thu Jan 24, 2002 1:38 am

This is a Dow Jones/ Singapore_Air Exclusive!

EXCLUSIVE: SIA Isn't Interested In Ansett Intl - Source
SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--

Singapore Airlines Ltd. (P.SAL) isn't interested in Ansett International, the international arm of Australia's collapsed domestic carrier Ansett Australia Holdings Ltd. (A.AAH), an industry source told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

The administrators of Ansett Australia, which fell under voluntary administration last September, plan to sell the carrier's international division separately from the rest of the airline.

Accounting firm Andersen, which is acting as administrator of Ansett on behalf of creditors, said it is in talks with a number of parties regarding the sale of Ansett International. Andersen said it expects to generate A$50 million from the deal.

The source said SIA doesn't have interest in certain landing rights that Ansett International possesses. In addition, SIA doesn't have the right to connect its flights between Australia and destinations other than Singapore, the source said.

Ansett International operated flights to Hong Kong; Osaka, Japan; Fiji; and Bali, Indonesia, before Ansett Australia folded last year due to huge losses.

Ansett Australia creditors are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to approve a deal to sell much of the carrier's assets to Tesna Holdings Pty. Ltd., a consortium backed by Melbourne businessmen Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox, and U.S. airline investors David Bonderman and William Franke.

Tesna has agreed to pay A$270 million in cash and assume liabilities for unpaid employee benefits of up to A$244 million. But the latest Tesna offer excludes assets under Ansett International.

Ansett International lost A$16.5 million in the year ended June 30.

Australia World Airlines, a group that has been trying to launch a new international carrier from Australia for many years without success, is among the bidders for Ansett International.

SIA used to have an indirect interest in Ansett Australia through its then 25% stake in Air New Zealand Ltd. (A.AIZ), which wholly owned the Australian carrier.

Following the New Zealand government's NZ$885 million bailout of Air NZ last week, SIA's stake has shrunk to 6.5% from 25%.

The stake will be further diluted to 4.5% if the NZ$300 million preference share component of the nationalization program is converted into ordinary shares of Air NZ.

At 0815 GMT (3:15 a.m. EST), shares of SIA were unchanged at S$12.40.
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