From Daily Independent (Nigeria)
Virgin Nigeria sets guidelines for investors
• Registers with CAC, about to take-off
By Rotimi Durojaiye
Aviation Correspondent, Lagos
Nigerian institutional investors willing to participate in the 51 per cent private placement in the new national carrier, Virgin Nigeria Airline (VNA), must have a minimum financial asset base of N350 million.
Besides, they must have been in existence for at least three years before January 1, 2004.
VNA Head (Corporate Development) Yemi Osindero disclosed this in Lagos at the weekend, and added that no investor with interest in an airline competing with VNA would be allowed to partake in the private placement.
The placement of 51 percent equity in the new national airline, handled by Investment Banking and Trust Company Limited, is expected to be completed by the end of February.
Osindero said VNA was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) last December.
“The airline has filed applications for all necessary certifications by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as other international civil aviation authorities”, he stated.
VNA has begun discussions with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) with a view to preparing the airports for its operations and it is examining maintenance facilities towards enhancing operational efficiency at take-off.
Said Osindero: “Significant progress has been recorded on these issues and we are hopeful that all necessary processes would be completed ahead of schedule. Things are being done by the books and in close consultation with the relevant authorities”.
On the take-off date, he said the management is mindful of the huge importance of the project to all stake-holders, “especially in terms of the commencement of full flight operations. That’s why all these steps are being taken simultaneously to ensure a hitch-free take off”.
VNA has not arrived at a formal launch date because many of the steps to be taken are third party related, however, Osindero stressed that “we intend to announce a firm launch date as soon as possible”.
On the threat by the American Government to ban the airline from its airspace, he said very constructive discussions are going on between Washington and Abuja.
“The matter of airline designation is between the two governments, but I am confident that the two nations would soon reach a wise and timely decision on the matter”.
Asked to shed light on the on-going recruitment exercise by two consulting firms on behalf of the airline, Osindero said about 25,000 applications have been received; “an affirmation of the confidence Nigerians have in the project”.
Various stages of interview have commenced. The first set of recruits is for the launch, however, future business growth is expected to increase staff levels to thousands in the coming years.
Discussions are on-going with Airbus and Boeing for long and short term aircraft needs.
“These are detailed and confidential commercial negotiations and will result in significant number of aircraft”, Osindero said.
Negotiations are being completed to introduce global technical systems into VNA operations, including reservation, global distribution and payment.
VNA will not inherit the facilities of defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL) “because they are not appropriate for our needs”.
Evaluation is underway for the most appropriate site for a combined major office and staff training facility.
The Nigerian government and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) on September 28, 2004, signed an agreement to establish a new airline for Nigeria, to be called Virgin Nigeria Airline.
It will be owned 51 percent by Nigerian institutional investors, via a private placement process to be completed before launch. The balance will be held by VAA.
Total investment is expected to be around $50 million, of which VAA will provide 49 percent.
The new airline will operate separately from existing VAA services between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.