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Old March 11th, 2005, 12:23 PM   #1
sektor29
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✈ | LH*/LX*/OS*/SN*/WK/WW/XQ/4U | Lufthansa-Group Carriers

This was translated by google from a german website, so it might be a lousy english

the original text can be found at:ard.boerse


Lufthansa meets Swiss
Fusion discussions on the Huett'n? Only recently the two bosses of Swiss and Lufthansa are to have actually conferred in a ski hut. Today prominent managers meet allegedly in Zurich.
Schaffen es Swiss und Lufthansa im zweiten Anlauf?

Do Swiss and Lufthansa in the second approach create it?


According to circles a fusion of German Lufthansa with Swiss Swiss initiates itself again. The negotiations are to already be in a advanced stage. After information of the financial press agency dpa AFX still on this Friday some managers will travel to discussions to Zurich. "there are prominent gentlemen in the company, whom today toward Zurich fly, after there was recently already a meeting with Mayrhuber and Franz on a ski hut", it was said.
After the Plauderei of the Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber with its Swiss colleague Christoph Franz the negotiations are to now zuspitzen themselves. It probably runs out on a co-operation "in the second or third quarter", continued to be called it in the circles.

Does Swiss open the door again?
"Financial Times Germany" and "trade paper" had reported before agreeing of the second attempt of Lufthansa to take over the fastened Swiss. Also shareholders of the Swiss would have confirmed that negotiations would have brought an approximation in Switzerland.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman did not confirm the reports: "no comment on speculations in the media. "unchanged applies, the Swiss with the last mark the door closed and Lufthansa it did not lock.

First approach 2003 failed
The German airline had submitted the Swiss already once to 2003 an assumption offer, with Swiss however in last minute had meet with a rebuff.

The Swiss oriented itself then for alliance "Oneworld" led by British Airways, which with the "star competes Alliance" of Lufthansa. A half year later however also these discussions failed. Since that time in the media more frequently upon a renewed approach to a GermanSwiss fusion one speculates.

Swiss reorganization runs
As a condition for a unification of the two airlines are considered the measures of reorganization introduced of Swiss, which are to lead at the latest 2006 again to a profit. Thus Swiss develops in the direction required by Lufthansa before two years.
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Old March 11th, 2005, 02:48 PM   #2
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Would Lufthansa retain Swiss as a seperate company (just like Air France - KLM), or would Swiss just disappear into LH?
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Old March 12th, 2005, 02:02 AM   #3
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Lufthansa said it would swiss retain as a brand - so you will be able to fly swiss in the future

its like AF -KLM, but a diffrent business-model
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Old March 14th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #4
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FOCUS: Lufthansa Says Would Retain Zurich In Swiss Deal
By Goran Mijuk
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
14 March 2005

ZURICH (Dow Jones)--Deutsche Lufthansa's (LHA.XE) pledge to maintain Zurich airport as an international hub may help convince Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.'s (SWIN.EB) major shareholders and politicians to accept a potential CHF500 million takeover bid from the German competitor as early as this spring.

A majority of Swiss politicians Monday said they would support a takeover deal for the struggling carrier should Lufthansa guarantee that the airport in Zurich-Kloten will continue to offer direct international flights to other major economic centers such as New York and Shanghai.

This would enable Swiss businessmen direct access to other centers and reduce the risk of sharp job cuts at the airport as well as support the country's important tourism industry, politicians said.

Swiss International's major shareholders, including the Swiss government with a 20.4% stake, UBS AG (UBS) with 10.4% and Credit Suisse Group (CSR) 10%, said they need to discuss details of the takeover plan first before reaching a decision.

However, they are understood to be supportive of a deal since they have said in the past they will listen to any workable solution, including a takeover.

Investment in the Swiss carrier has been an expensive disaster. Politicians pressured the country's major businesses to pump in cash after former flag carrier Swissair collapsed in 2002, causing widespread shock and disbelief in the country.

The government and business put more than CHF4 billion into the airline industry. UBS and Credit Suisse have already written down their CHF300 million investment. The new airline has racked up aggregate losses of CHF2 billion.

The major shareholders in Swiss International Air Lines, which represent 86% of the carrier's outstanding stock are all prohibited from selling their holdings because of a lockup agreement. They're meeting Monday to discuss Lufthansa's proposal, which was published late Sunday.

"It is important that Zurich airport remains an international hub", said Fulvio Pelli, head of Switzerland's business-friendly radical party FDP, adding that more details of the deal need to be made public before a political decision can be made.

Politicians from other parties as well as worker unions echoed Pelli's stance and added some of their own demands.

They say Lufthansa needs to guarantee not to reduce jobs and help smooth the airport's complicated landing regime which puts a crippling cap on the number of flights to and from Zurich.

"Lufthansa needs to guarantee that the Zurich airport can operate 20 long-distance destinations for the next five years", said Daniel Vischer, president of Swiss general services union VPOD.

"Swiss mustn't become a regional spin-off of Lufthansa. The hub concept needs to be maintained", said Christoph Ulrich, head of Swiss International's pilots union Aeropers.

Zurich airport officials declined to comment directly on the ongoing merger talks.

The German airline, which Sunday said it has resumed takeover talks with Swiss International to integrate the carrier into its network while keeping the Swiss brand and continue to use Zurich airport's traffic infrastructure, declined to specify details of potential price and timing and whether it would provide any guarantees.

Analysts expect Lufthansa to pay the free-float shareholders, representing around 14% of the carrier's outstanding stock, around CHF10.2 a share this spring, which would indicate a total takeover value of CHF535.3 million.

Their estimates are based on Lufthansa's comments that it will make an offer based on the average share price of recent weeks.

It is still unclear, though, if Swiss International Air Line's core shareholders will receive a similar cash offer or if they will swap their assets with Lufthansa shares or another form of compensation.

"We expect that the takeover will take place, though union opposition still poses a threat", said Patrik Schwendimann, analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank.

Though unions may strongly oppose the merger which could include more job cuts, they will continue their discussions with the management of Swiss International because the carrier will remain a separate legal entity.

"We don't know about the details of the merger plans, so we can't say yes or no. But we will fight for our pilots to keep their jobs. Anyway, we first need to address the ongoing restructuring of Swiss", said Christoph Frick, head of the Swiss pilots' union, that represents around 380 short-haul pilots.

Amid the current restructuring of Swiss International the company plans to reduce its workforce by around 800 and cut the number of short-haul flights.

The plan is part of the company's effort to become profitable after three years of consecutive losses.

It is not clear yet if more cuts to the Swiss carrier's fleet and staff will result in the wake of a potential takeover.

Should the parties involved agree on a takeover, a deal is also very likely to receive the green light from European Union officials. Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot Monday signaled he agrees in principle with the planned takeover.

Shares of Swiss International, which rose 19% on Friday after the takeover speculation arose, added another 7.2%, or CHF0.75, to CHF11.15 in late trading in Zurich Monday, translating into a market value of CHF585.2 million.
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Old March 14th, 2005, 11:50 PM   #5
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Lufthansa and SWISS in integration negotiations

13.03.05
Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Swiss International Air Lines AG are in constructive negotiations about the take-over and integration of SWISS into the Lufthansa group. Both companies jointly developed the business model, which is subject to the approval of the Lufthansa supervisory board, the relevant SWISS-corporate bodies as well as the SWISS core shareholders. If the required approvals are obtained, Lufthansa will submit an offer to the free float shareholders based on the average share price of the recent weeks.

The jointly developed business model aims at providing a concentration of the strengths of both airlines, while retaining the independence of SWISS to the extent possible. The cornerstones include, inter alia, maintaining the air traffic infrastructure within Switzerland as well as the brand “Swiss”.

Both companies will inform about the progress of the negotiations in due time.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Corporate Communications


This press release can be found at the lufthansa website and at the swiss homepage
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Old March 15th, 2005, 12:13 PM   #6
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Lufthansa close to takeover
BEIJING, Mar. 15 -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe's second-biggest airline, said it is close to a takeover of unprofitable Swiss International Air Lines Ltd in a transaction that would eliminate another of the region's national carriers.

The companies developed a business model that needs to be approved by the carriers' supervisory boards and Swiss's major shareholders, the airlines said in statements on Sunday. Once approved, Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa said it will submit an offer based on the average share price in recent weeks to minority shareholders, who own about 14 per cent of Swiss.

Europe's national carriers are under pressure amid increased competition from low-cost airlines. Air France took over KLM Royal Dutch Airlines NV last year, creating Europe's largest carrier. Belgium's Sabena went bankrupt in 2001. Lufthansa and Swiss, whose predecessor Swissair Group was the region's seventh-biggest carrier before its 2001 collapse, last held merger talks in 2003.

"There are long-term benefits for Lufthansa," said Frank Skodzik, an analyst with WestLB in Dusseldorf, Germany, who has an "outperform" rating on Lufthansa shares. "Swiss has a very good brand name and attractive premium traffic, and Lufthansa can use Swiss to bring passengers to its Munich and Frankfurt hubs."

Swiss has posted almost 1.81 billion Swiss francs (US$1.57 billion) in losses since its 2002 creation. Lufthansa reported a 400 million-euro (US$538 million) profit last year after a record loss of 984 million euros (US$1.3 billion) in 2003.

Shares of Swiss rose 20 per cent on March 11 after the German Handelsblatt newspaper said the two companies had agreed to the basics of a takeover plan. At Friday's close, the offer to the minority shareholders would be worth 76.7 million francs (US$66.3 million).

The shares rose 1.70 francs to 10.4 francs (US$8.9) on March 11, giving the company a market value of 548 million francs (US$473 million). The average price for Swiss since October is 8.95 francs (US$7.7), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Swiss had sales of 3.52 billion francs (US$3.04 billion) last year. Lufthansa had sales of 11.7 billion euros (US$15.6 billion) in 2003, or more than four times Swiss's annual revenue.

Paris-based Air France has been cutting costs to compete with Lufthansa and British Airways Plc, Europe's No 3 carrier, since taking over KLM last year. All the major airlines are facing price competition from low-cost carriers such as Dublin-based Ryanair Holdings Plc and Luton, England-based EasyJet Plc on European routes.

(Source: China Daily/Susanna Ray)
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Old March 15th, 2005, 06:59 PM   #7
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EU Commission to study competitive effects of Lufthansa/Swiss deal - Lowe
15 March 2005

BRUSSELS (AFX) - EU director general of competition Philip Lowe said the proposed merger between Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Swiss International Air Lines AG would be vetted to ensure the deal complies with European competition rules.

'We have a fair amount of experience of dealing with cases in this sector. We look at competition on routes and network effects,' he said.

The investigation, which will be carried out once the companies notify the commission of the deal, will look at whether Lufthansa or Swiss would be able to distort competition through their combined activities.

He added that he expected the commission to deal with more and more reviews of airline mergers as consolidation of the European airline sector gets underway.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 04:54 PM   #8
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Quiet a shame what is happening, although it's Swiss' own fault.
After the collapse of Swissair in late 2001, the state and a lot of multinational Swiss companies provided around US$2bn in liquidity for the new airline. It was at that time enough cash to BUY Lufhansa.
However, Switzerland decided to try it on their own - with this bitter result.
Although it makes economical sense, Lufthansa buys Swiss now for pocket change.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 06:14 PM   #9
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Major 'Swiss' shareholders not opposed to Lufthansa takeover - report
16 March 2005

ZURICH (AFX) - The Swiss government, UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group, who together own around 41 pct in Swiss International Air Lines AG, have no objections to a takeover by Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger reported citing its own research.

Other major shareholders, which include various Swiss cantons and companies should also be happy to be rid of their shares, which have already been written down to zero on their books, the paper said.

Major shareholders held a meeting on Monday night with 'Swiss' management to discuss a possible takeover by the German airline, but all have since declined to comment, the paper said.

The board of 'Swiss' is also expected to rubber stamp the deal, and the government is due to discuss it next Wednesday at its regular meeting, the paper said.

Lufthansa's board is due to discuss the takeover on Tuesday.

The Swiss government, cantons, companies and industrialists hold around 86 pct of shares in 'Swiss' after taking part in a public-private bailout following the collapse of the former Swissair in 2001.

Fourteen pct of shares are in free float. These are expected to receive a different offer to those that took part in the bailout.

Swiss tabloid Blick reported yesterday that Lufthansa was looking into reviving the Swissair brand.
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Old March 17th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #10
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Swiss govt confirms ready to sell 'Swiss' stake to Lufthansa

FRANKFURT (AFX) - The Swiss government is ready to sell its 20.4 pct stake in Swiss International Air Lines AG to Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Handelsblatt reported, citing a finance ministry spokesman.

The government intends to withdraw from 'Swiss', the spokesman told the
newspaper. He added that the governing federal council had yet to agree to this move, but that this is only a formality.

Swiss's core shareholders, who together hold around 86 pct of the financially troubled airline's equity, are understood to be willing to sell their stakes to Lufthansa for a symbolic price in order to end their exposure, the newspaper added.
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Old March 17th, 2005, 11:31 PM   #11
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Lufthansa also buy brand "swissair"

As i read in a other forum, Lufthansa will also buy the rights of the brand "swissair"
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Old March 17th, 2005, 11:39 PM   #12
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Old March 19th, 2005, 07:54 PM   #13
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Swiss await airline sale decision
By HAIG SIMONIAN
19 March 2005
Financial Times

The Swiss government yesterday said it would decide next Tuesday on whether to back the sale of Swiss International Air Lines to Lufthansa.

The announcement of the timing, to coincide with meetings the same day of the Swiss airline's board of directors and Lufthansa's supervisory board, came as resistance in Switzerland to the transaction increased sharply.

Politicians have attacked Hans-Rudolf Merz, Switzerland's finance minister and an advocate of the deal, for not ensuring adequate guarantees for Switzerland before indicating his support.

Media reactions have also turned sour after initial indifference or resignation, with commentators demanding that Switzerland should not sell Swiss short.

Blick, the daily newspaper, described the deal as "surrender". The paper, known for its populist campaigns, also argued that, in a country ruled by referendums, the sale of Swiss should be put to popular vote.

Mr Merz met the leaders of Switzerland's main political parties yesterday to brief them on the state of talks. However, he has rejected growing political calls for a full parliamentary debate, arguing a sale decision was the remit of the federal government, which owns 20 per cent of the airline.

Concerns in Switzerland have focused on the need to maintain a national flag carrier, and doubts about the sustainability of Lufthansa's commitment to retain Swiss as a separate brand.

Attention has also focused on the German group's loose commitment to maintain Zurich as a hub for transfer passengers, and to ensure Swiss maintains a regional and intercontinental route network.

Such issues have emerged as sensitive in Zurich, where the cantonal administration owns more than 10 per cent of Swiss's shares. Local politicians have expressed concerns about potentially high job losses.

Swiss and Lufthansa have declined to comment beyond an admission they were in "constructive" talks.
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Old March 21st, 2005, 05:33 PM   #14
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Swiss MPs back airline sale
21 March 2005
The Guardian

Switzerland appears resigned to the sale of national airline Swiss to German rival Lufthansa , opinion polls showed yesterday, two days before the Swiss government announces its verdict on a takeover.

Surveys showed a majority of Swiss parliamentari ans and members of the public were in favour of selling unprofitable Swiss International Air Lines to its larger German rival rather than bailing the carrier out with more money.

The government - the largest shareholder in the three-year-old airline - is expected to decide on Lufthansa's offer tomorrow, setting the lead for other shareholders and potentially marking the end of Switzerland's battle to keep the Swiss flag flying on a national carrier.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 04:07 AM   #15
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Switzerland resigned to sale of airline Swiss
By Tom Armitage

ZURICH, March 20 (Reuters) - Switzerland appears resigned to the sale of national airline Swiss to German rival Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), opinion polls showed on Sunday, two days before the Swiss government announces its verdict on a takeover.

Surveys showed a majority of Swiss parliamentarians and members of the public were in favour of selling unprofitable Swiss International Air Lines to its larger German neighbour rather than bailing the carrier out with new cash injections.

The government - the largest shareholder in the three-year old airline - is expected to decide on Lufthansa's takeover offer on Tuesday, setting the lead for other shareholders and potentially marking the end of Switzerland's battle to keep the Swiss flag flying on a national carrier.

A survey in the SonntagsBlick showed that 53 percent of those polled were in favour of the sale of Swiss to Lufthansa while 75 percent said the state should not put more money into the airline, which it helped bring to life in 2002.

A SonntagsZeitung poll showed that 56 of 81 parliamentarians were in favour of the takeover, while only three would allow more public money to be spent on supporting the company.

Swiss board member Walter Bosch told the SonntagsZeitung that when weighing up their options, the cabinet would likely decide to go with the Lufthansa offer.

"In the real world, the Lufthansa deal is the right solution," he was quoted as saying. "Everything else is dreams."

Along with cash from various Swiss companies, the government pumped some 600 million Swiss francs ($516 million) into Swiss when it was formed in early 2002 from the remnants of failed predecessor Swissair and regional carrier Crossair.

According to sources close to negotiations, Lufthansa is offering around 50 million euros to buy out small shareholders while larger shareholders - mainly Swiss companies which chipped in to get Swiss airborne - would receive a symbolic sum.

Big shareholders include large banks UBS and Credit Suisse as well as drugmakers Novartis and Roche and food giant Nestle.

A spokesman for Swiss on Sunday declined to comment on newspaper reports that the major shareholders would be given a cash bonus tied to the success of a deal.

If Lufthansa shares outperform the sector over the next three years, Swiss's current major shareholders would receive a cash bonus capped at the current market value of Swiss of around 500 million francs, the NZZ am Sonntag said.

Newspapers also reported that Lufthansa would invest in two new long-haul jets for Swiss, creating jobs at the airline's hub in Zurich.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 01:24 AM   #16
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Lufthansa to Buy Swiss International for Up To $395.1M
By Goran Mijuk and George Frey
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
22 March 2005

ZURICH -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG Tuesday agreed to take over Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. in stages over the next few years for up to 300 million euros ($395.1 million).

The agreement, which was expected for several days, seals the first major European airline deal since Air France acquired KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 2003. The deal is likely to help turn around unprofitable Swiss International and will allow Lufthansa to tap into the Swiss carrier's much-vied for business and first-class customer base.

"The most important aspect of the integration is that it will produce clear benefits for our customers," said Lufthansa Chief Executive and Chairman Wolfgang Mayrhuber. Also Tuesday, the CEO extended his management contract for another five years to Dec. 31, 2010.

Lufthansa and Swiss International said they expect the tie-up will lead to annual cost savings of around 160 million euros from 2007 onwards and help both companies improve their regional and international network.

As part of the agreement, Swiss International will retain its corporate headquarters in Switzerland and maintain its brand. The Swiss airline will become a separate Lufthansa unit and will be allowed to elect one member to Lufthansa's board, safeguarding Swiss traffic interests in Germany.

Analysts welcomed the size of the transaction, though it fell short of some expectations for a takeover price of around 400 million euros.

"Lufthansa didn't make any gifts and is paying the minimum price for Swiss International Air Lines," said Patrik Schwendimann, an analyst with Zuercher Kantonalbank in Zurich.

Klaus Linde of SES Research in Hamburg said that although Lufthansa will still have to pay for Swiss' ongoing restructuring, the deal is good for the German carrier. Lufthansa will be able to increase its client base in Switzerland, France and Italy, he said.

Around 80% of Swiss International's shareholders have already accepted the takeover of Lufthansa, which will be executed in stages.

Shares of Swiss International will be initially transferred into a Swiss company called AirTrust. Lufthansa will then buy 11% of AirTrust. Once antitrust regulation authorities give the green light, Lufthansa will raise its stake to 49% in AirTrust. Later, the stake should be increased to 100%.

Swiss International said Lufthansa will in May offer the company's free-float shareholders a takeover deal worth around 45 million euros. The free-float shareholders represent around 15% of Swiss International's outstanding stock.

Swiss International's other major shareholders, which include the Swiss government and Swiss companies such as UBS AG (UBS) and Credit Suisse Group (CSR), will be compensated in 2008. The payout will depend on the performance of Lufthansa's shares and could reach a maximum of 250 million euros, the company said.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 01:25 AM   #17
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ANALYSIS-Swiss seen lucky to swap independence for survival
By Jason Neely, European Aerospace & Airlines Correspondent

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - Swiss International Air Lines swaps independence for survival in a merger announced on Tuesday with Germany's Lufthansa that leaves several other European loss-making carriers still hunting for lifelines.

Analysts say state-invested airlines across Europe have proved a tough sell, despite hopes sparked by Air France's takeover of Dutch KLM last year to form the world's biggest airline company by revenues.

The Swiss deal - worth up to 310 million euros ($409 million - is the largest transaction since, as analysts say most carriers have done too little to lower costs to attract investors.

"The Swiss had to move if they were going to get in on the action," said analyst Nick van den Brul at Exane BNP Paribas.

Van den Brul said Lufthansa would boost its network by about 20 percent with Swiss, allowing it to move closer to the scale of Air France-KLM in lucrative long-haul flights.

For Swiss, it has joined forces with one of Europe's big three - Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa.

"Going it alone would have meant that Swiss slowly bleeds to death," Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz told a news conference in the Swiss capital.

Smaller traditional carriers more heavily reliant on short flights are being hammered by low-fare carriers such as Ireland's Ryanair.

High fuel prices have squeezed financially weak airlines further.

EU RULES

Another key driver behind airline privatisation is a widening European Union which means fewer carriers can fall back on state bailouts, prompting governments to redouble efforts to unload their airlines.

Hungary is on its fourth attempt to privatise Malev while Greece has called its efforts to sell Olympic Airlines the company's last chance at survival.

Losses and state control hobbled efforts by Italy's Alitalia to join Air France-KLM.

And Czech carrier CSA said this week it would take another year of cost cutting before privatisation through an initial public offering could begin.

"It's the graveyard," said one London airlines analyst, referring to the risk facing airlines which cannot cut costs, a reality underscored by the collapse of Belgium's Sabena and Swiss predecessor Swissair.

SWISS PROGRESS

Analysts say Swiss won Lufthansa's attention with the progress it made in cutting losses to 140 million Swiss francs last year from 687 million in 2003.

"The key issue is whether Lufthansa can turn it around to create value and how much investment in restructuring is still required," Merrill Lynch analyst Anthony Bor wrote in a recent research note.

Swiss did not always get it right, stumbling in its 2002 re-launch by targeting premier service at a time when much of the industry was scrapping first-class seating in favour of more economy seats where passengers paid for sandwiches.

After an about-face, Swiss started to bring down costs, with management hoping to lower operating costs by another 300 million swiss francs ($255 million) a year through 800 to 1,000 job cuts.

Swiss has already cast off operations such as catering and heavy maintenance, but analysts say it is vital that the latest reforms are carried out.

"Unless Lufthansa can radically change Swiss, there is risk," said Goldman Sachs analyst Hugo Scott-Gall in a recent research note.

Citigroup analyst Andrew Light said with restructuring, Swiss was expected to break even at the operating and net income levels in 2005.

NO HELP FROM UPSTARTS

Despite the woes of traditional carriers, the airlines industry continues to draw new entrants, drawn by growth seen doubling traffic in Europe by 2020.

But upstarts have shied away from taking over existing airlines, reluctant to shoulder the heavy costs of old fleets, pension backlogs and vertically integrated structures where all maintenance and catering, for example, is done in-house.

Analysts say it is easier to start from scratch, keeping costs low through use of Internet booking, outsourced support and leased fleets drawn from a glut of modern planes in storage since the industry's slowdown began in 2001.
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Last edited by hkskyline; March 23rd, 2005 at 01:34 AM.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 01:38 AM   #18
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After flying the flag for 74 years, Swiss carrier falls in German hands

ZURICH, March 22 (AFP) - The takeover of Swiss International Airlines by Germany's Lufthansa Tuesday effectively marks the end of a 74 year history of old-style Swiss flag carriers.

However, under the deal struck by the two companies, Swiss is expected to continue to fly as a subsidiary under its own brand, with the distinctive national white-on-red cross on its tailplane.

Here is a brief history of Swissair and Swiss.

1931: Swissair starts flying following the merger of Balair and Ad Astra Aero.

1947: Swissair is nationalised and starts transatlantic flights to New York.

1950: Swissair's network extends across five continents. The airline becomes a byword for Swiss steadiness and quality, and an object of pride for many Swiss people, flying the national flag around the world.

1960: The company buys its first jet airliners, French Caravelles and US-made McDonnell Douglas DC8s.

1979: The European regional airline Crossair is set up by a former Swissair pilot in Basel.

1989 - 2002: Swissair tries to join or form alliances with other airlines, without success.

1991: Swissair takes over Crossair, having acquired a minority stake three years earlier

1993: A plan to merge Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Scandinavia's SAS and the Dutch carrier KLM, dubbed Alcazar, collapses.

1997: Swissair's incoming chief executive, Philipp Bruggisser, embarks on the airline's aggressive "hunter" strategy, buying up stakes in other airlines, including Belgium's Sabena, South African Airways, and two smaller French carriers.

1998: A Swissair MD-11 airliner flying from New York to Geneva crashes off the coast of Canada, killing 229 people in the airline's worst ever accident.

1998: After decreasing its financial stake over the years, the Swiss government ends Swissair's de facto monopoly amid open skies agreements with the US and EU.

2001: Bruggisser resigns. The "hunter" strategy collapses and the traditionally steady Swissair's fragile financial situation comes to light.

October 2001: Swissair Group is suddenly grounded leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, after fuel suppliers refuse to deliver the airline unless it pays cash. The parent group slides towards bankruptcy. Catering and technical support subsidiaries are sold off.

November 2001: Federal and regional authorities invest 2.1 billion Swiss francs (1.3 billion euros) in a rescue plan that combines financially healthy Crossair with bankrupt Swissair's flight operations.

March 31 2001: Swiss International Air Lines begins its first flights under the single brand "Swiss", flying under similar livery to the old Swissair. The new airline has a fleet of 128 aircraft and 12,000 employees.

2002 to 2005. Swiss stays firmly anchored in the red as the Iraq war, the SARS outbreak in Asia and poor economic climate cause a global slump in air travel. The company cuts down its fleet and staff. It actively seeks tie-ups with other major airlines to guarantee its survival.

2004: A deal with British Airways collapses, leaving Swiss out of the world's largest airline alliance, Oneworld.

March 14, 2005: After months of rumours, Lufthansa and Swiss reveal that they are in "constructive" takeover talks.

March 22, 2005: Lufthansa announces an agreement to take over Swiss.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 06:04 PM   #19
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The waning of Europe's national flag carriers
By PAUL BETTS
23 March 2005
Financial Times

Even the Swiss have finally been forced to accept that operating an independent national flag carrier is a thing of the past. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and money - some SFr2bn - if they had simply allowed their national airline to go bust rather than pursue the obsolete dream of keeping it afloat.

Broad political and popular support for yesterday's takeover of Swiss International by Lufthansa contrasts starkly with the country's ill-considered determination in 2002 to rebuild a national flag carrier out of the ashes of the collapsed Swissair and the Crossair regional airline.

At the time everybody rallied to the cause. The federal government, the cantons, the banks and multinationals, and small savers all paid SFr56 for shares in the new airline, now worth a meagre SFr9.60.

The plan was doomed from the start in a fast-changing industry in the throes of long-overdue consolidation and challenged by a new breed of aggressive European low-cost carrier.

The Swiss hardly helped themselves by maintaining unrealistic international ambitions. Far better if they had followed the example of the Belgians, who let Sabena go, or the Irish, who refused to bail out Aer Lingus.

The Irish carrier has since reinvented itself as a successful low-cost, low-fare operator, while SN Brussels, a small shadow of the former Sabena, lives on as a modest but profitable regional carrier.

Hopefully others, across the Italian and Austrian Alps, will draw from the Swiss lesson.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 06:38 PM   #20
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Are you sure its that much money?
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