oneworld airline Qatar Airways, currently under geopolitical seige from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others in the Mideast, is the largest shareholder in British Airways parent IAG.
It’s also set to become the 7th largest shareholder in American Airlines — with possible plans to become the largest alongside T. Rowe Price and PRIMECAP Management Company.
Qatar Airways has filed under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act to acquire a portion of American Airlines stock. We know that so far their initial acquisition will be approximating $808 million worth of stock, or about 3.5% of the company based on its current market cap. That would place them ahead of BlackRock among the airline’s major owners:
However American Airlines is reporting that Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker have discussed Qatar acquiring a 10% stake in the airline.
In an SEC 8-K filing American discloses these discussions and re-iterates its protectionist stance that even if it’s partly owned by its oneworld partner Qatar it still thinks that the US government should limit consumer choice by cracking down on flights to the US by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar and enforce higher fares.
The proposed investment by Qatar Airways was not solicited by American Airlines and would in no way change the Company’s Board composition, governance, management or strategic direction. It also does not alter American Airlines’ conviction on the need to enforce the Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the nation of Qatar and ensure fair competition with Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways. American Airlines continues to believe that the President and his administration will stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the U.S. aviation industry and that threaten American jobs.
I love that American Airlines promises to continue to seek government protection from Qatar even if they’re owned in part by Qatar, and to claim that their shareholders are being hurt by Qatar even as Qatar drives up their share price.