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Kuwait Seeks Bids for 35% Stake in Unprofitable National Carrier

Kuwait Seeks Bids for 35% Stake in National Carrier
A ground crewmember looks inside the cabin of a Kuwait Airways Airbus A340 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photographer: Tengku Bahar/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Kuwait is seeking bids to sell 35 percent of Kuwait Airways Corp. as the OPEC oil producer searches for strategic investors to return the national flag carrier to profit.

“All identified assets, liabilities, rights and benefits” of Kuwait Airways Corp. will be transferred to a new company called Kuwait Airways Co. KSC, the Privatization Committee said in an e-mailed statement today. Joint-stock companies listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange and specialized global companies can subscribe to 35 percent of the share capital valued at 220 million dinars ($804 million), it said.

Kuwait’s parliament in January 2008 decided to sell shares in the airline, which hasn’t had a profit since the 1990 Iraqi invasion. The government planned to offer 40 percent of the stock to the public, 35 percent to a strategic investor and 5 percent to employees, and keep the remainder.

Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, will own 20 percent the new airline company, while Kuwait-based airline operators won’t be eligible to bid for the stake, according to the statement. The Privatization Committee didn’t provide details of selling shares to the public.

Citigroup Inc. and Ernst & Young were chosen to carry out the privatization, state-run Kuwait News Agency reported in August last year. The carrier operates 17 aircraft including two Boeing 777s and a mixed fleet of Airbus A340s, A310s, A320s and A300-600s.

The deadline for submission of expressions of interest for the 35 percent stake is 5 p.m. Kuwait time on Aug. 25.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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