Air France-KLM Capital Increase Sees CMA CGM Take 9% Stake

Air France-KLM
Credit: Ramon van Flymen/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

PARIS—Air France-KLM said CMA CGM, the French shipping company with which it signed a strategic partnership for air cargo last month, is now a 9% shareholder in the group.

CMA CGM acquired the stake through the airline group’s recently concluded €2.6 billion ($2.7 billion) capital raise. It was announced that the shipping company would take the stake in May when the 10-year strategic air cargo partnership was announced.

“Net proceeds from the capital increase will be mostly used to accelerate state aid repayment and reduce related financial costs, as well as to reduce Air France-KLM’s indebtedness,” the group said in a June 14 statement.

France and the Netherlands also participated in the equity offering to ensure their stakes were not diluted. Before the capital increase, the French state held 28.6% of Air France-KLM, the Dutch state 9.3%, China Eastern Airlines 9.6% and Delta Air Lines 5.8%.

The financing operation, which concluded June 9, saw total demand of around 2.24 million shares, representing a take-up rate of 116% and an oversubscribed transaction, the airline group said. Final gross proceeds were reported at €2.26 billion.

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith described the capital increase as a “strong demonstration” of confidence in the group’s prospects.

“This operation, which is part of a broader strategy to transform and streamline our Group, will allow us to emerge with a stronger balance sheet and increased strategic flexibility,” Smith continued. Beyond reducing Air France-KLM’s debt, repayment of the state aid frees the group from the various conditions that were attached to the bailout.

Separately, in an interview with BFM TV June 14, Smith said that Air France was ready for a busy summer, having moved to recruit 300 pilots and 300 mechanics some months ago in preparation for high demand. “We have taken the decision to go very strong on the transatlantic,” Smith said, adding that demand for those routes had surpassed pre-crisis levels. “Air France-KLM is ready,” he said.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.