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China Eastern Airlines to acquire 10% of Air France-KLM

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China Eastern Airlines said Friday it is set to acquire a 10 per cent stake in Air France-KLM, as it moves to expand its network in Europe.

[BEIJING] China Eastern Airlines said Friday it is set to acquire a 10 per cent stake in Air France-KLM, as it moves to expand its network in Europe.

The state-owned company will pay about 375 million euros (S$595.79 million) for its share in the French-Dutch airline, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

American carrier Delta will also acquire a 10 per cent stake in Air France-KLM, the statement said.

The "three companies will build a global network of airlines and will provide more convenient, efficient and high-quality travel services for passengers around the world", the statement said, adding that the deal will also allow China Eastern "to extend and expand its route network", develop new markets and improve its brand image.

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China's Civil Aviation Administration has encouraged Chinese airlines to build up their presence abroad and become internationally recognised brands.

Beijing has traditionally encouraged companies to invest overseas to find new markets, access technology and increase China Inc's influence, although authorities have recently taken a tougher stance as concerns grow over capital flight and unsound acquisitions.

The deal will "give Air France-KLM a European leadership position on Shanghai, the main business market in China," the European carrier said.

On Thursday, Air France-KLM said it would also acquire a 31 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic for around £220 million (S$390 million).

"The operation is expected to take place in 2018 after approval by the appropriate regulatory authorities," Air France-KLM said in a statement.

The deal will make the airline Virgin Atlantic's second biggest shareholder after Delta Airlines, which holds 49 per cent.

AFP

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