The reference to an easy going partnership between Patrick Corp and Branson destroys the credibility of the WSJ reporter for anyone in the aviation industry or paying even the slightest attention in Australia.
As I pointed out in a defunct early post yesterday, the real issue is whether or how quickly Patrick CEO Chris Corrigan will sell Virgin Blue and to whom.
Corrigan is pricing Virgin Blue well below the money at $1.90 according to every other financial analyst I've read today and yesterday. But it is reasonable to expect he will get enough acceptances to gain outright control of Virgin Blue as he only has to go from 46% equity to 50.01%.
This means that Branson will not prevail even if he opposes the initial bid, which is highly likely.
After that outright control is achieved Corrigan COULD be tempted to sell, if in fact he doesn't already have a buyer.
The short list starts with Emirates and ends with SQ
or its major shareholder Temasek Holdings.
Several things to remember.
Corrigan is very familiar with Dubai, home port of EK
. That's where he trained his strike breakers when he took on and crushed the water front unions.
is a conscientiously well managed airline with publicly stated ambitions to follow the SQ
model both as a carrier and in relation to its hub.
It needs external investments to feed its growth. Qantas has already made a detailed submission to the ACCC (in relation to its failed bid to merge with Air NZ
) concerning the alarm with which it would view an EK
base in Auckland.
Put the reasonable prospect that EK
will invest in NZ
beside the prospect of its acquiring all of Virgin Blue (as permitted under Australian law for domestic operations) and as I predicted yesterday, truckloads of fresh under daks are being delivered to Qantas HQ
For those of you who work in the Australian or NZ
aviation sectors I'd look forward to such developments. EK
is already a major employer of talented airline people from this part of the world.
I recommend www.smh.com.au or theaustralian.com.au for those abroad who'd like to read more. The Australian Financial Review has the best coverage today but its web site has been deliberately allowed to grind to a shuddering halt, even for subscribers.