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British Airways owner IAG uninterested in Norwegian Air after report of bid plan

[OSLO] British Airways owner IAG SA said it has no plans to revive a bid for discount rival Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA following a Spanish report that an offer was likely to be made in the next 15 days.

The airline group, which also owns Madrid-based Iberia, was said to be planning an approach worth about US$1.2 billion, according to Okdiario newspaper. That was based on a share price of 70-85 kroner, almost double Norwegian's current market value of US$652 million. Okdiario said JPMorgan was advising on the deal.

"We have said many times in the past few months that we are no longer interested in Norwegian Air," IAG spokesman Laura Goodes said on Friday. "Nothing has changed."

IAG, which also owns Ireland's Aer Lingus and discounters Vueling and Level, attempted to buy Norwegian last year, but abandoned the effort in January. A renewed pursuit would come amid signs the London-based company might encounter less resistance from Norwegian's board, according to Okdiario, which didn't name sources.

Norwegian Air declined to comment, a spokesman said. Billionaire John Fredriksen underwrote a rights issue for the company in February to help the shore up the carrier's balance sheet following a splurge on new planes that's seen it become a rival to IAG on trans-Atlantic routes.

BLOOMBERG