Aga Khan Fund to Withdraw From Ivory Coast Airline Stake

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development will withdraw from Air Cote d’Ivoire as other investors in the state carrier of Ivory Coast increase the company’s stock, airline General Director Rene Decurey said.

Air Cote d’Ivoire, which started flying last year in place of collapsed carrier Air Ivoire, plans a 10-fold capital increase tomorrow to 25 billion CFA francs ($49.2 million) from its original 2.5 billion francs, Decurey said in a phone interview on June 1.

The Aka Khan Fund, which has its headquarters in Geneva, holds 15 percent of the Abidjan-based carrier. The Ivory Coast government owns 65 percent of the closely held company and Paris-based Air France-KLM Group (AF), Europe’s biggest carrier, has a 20 percent stake.

The fund “let us know it will not take part in the capital increase,” and will shift its holding to another investor as part of the transaction, Decurey said. The West African Development Bank and local financial institution BIAO-Cote d’Ivoire may potentially be interested in buying the fund’s stock, he said.

Serge Bouah, a spokesman at the Lome, Togo-based West African Development Bank, and Eline Arnaud, a spokeswoman in Abidjan for BIAO-CI, both declined to comment.

Air Cote d’Ivoire will invest $40 million to buy two Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) Q400 turboprop aircraft to start domestic flights by November, Decurey said. It will also acquire an Airbus SAS twin-jet A319 plane by September to expand the regional flight network in West and Central Africa, he said. The fleet currently consists of two A319s and an Embraer 170 regional jet serving cities in nearby countries, according to its website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan at omonnier@bloomberg.net; Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan at bmieu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net

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