British Airways parent IAG eyeing a bid for Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air crew celebrate receiving an award

IAG, holding that brings toger Iberia, British Airways and Level, has announced this Thursday that studies launch a takeover bid on Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (Norwegian), which has already acquired a share of 4.61%, as announced today group to National Commission of Stock Market (CNMV).

IAG's interest in Norwegian is likely driven in part by the Norwegian's strong presence in London, where it is the third-largest carrier at Gatwick airport.

Norwegian's shares were halted by the Oslo bourse but had earlier risen by 18.3 percent to 212.1 crowns, valuing the company at 8.06 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.04 billion).

IAG owns airlines Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

It also recently launched a budget long-haul operator dubbed Level. March also saw low-priced subsidiary LEVEL begin a new route from Barcelona to Boston, and in July the airline will start operations from Paris-Orly to Montreal, New York (Newark), Guadeloupe and Martinique.

On Monday March 12 Norwegian's stock was trading at US$22.51.

The company last month raised $168m (€136m) in a share sale after warning of a larger than expected first-quarter loss.

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Norwegian released a brief statement in which the airline confirms the acquisition of 4.6 percent and affirms that it had "no prior knowledge" of the transaction.

"Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest worldwide aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth", the company said.

The buy-up caught Norwegian by surprise.

British Airways' parent company said Thursday it is considering making an offer for the low-priced carrier.

Kjos was not available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Ryanair last month agreed to buy a majority stake in a new Austrian leisure airline founded by Formula One former champion Niki Lauda, while easyJet bought a parts of failed airline Air Berlin previous year.

Norwegian Air carries over 30 million passengers a year and last year struck an agreement so easyJet customers could access its long-haul routes.

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