Transport Minister: State should keep controlling stake in airBaltic

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The state should keep a controlling stake in the airBaltic national airline even as it goes on looking for a strategical investor, newly instated Transport Minister Uldis Augulis (Greens) told Latvian Television Tuesday.

The strategic investor could be offered 49% of shares, including the 20% purchased by the 'financial investor', as German businessman Ralf-Dieter Montag-Girmes would sell his shares as per the shareholder's agreement.

Montag-Girmes has to make the projected investment in the airBaltic company until the end of March, Augulis told Latvian Television.

According to Augulis, the state should remain the key owner in the airline so that flights in the EU could be carried out without any restrictions.

Under the deal with Montag-Girmes, signed February 4, a total of EUR 132 million of fresh capital will be invested in the Latvian carrier for fleet modernization and its new Horizon 2021 business plan.

In November, the government approved the plan to sell 20 percent of airBaltic to Montag-Girmes for EUR 52 million and agreed to invest a further EUR 80 million in the airline.

Under the deal, the German investor will hold 20 percent of shares in the carrier, while the remaining stake will be held by the Latvian government.

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