Qatar Airways just bumped up its stake in British Airways and Aer Lingus owner IAG

Emma Haslett
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Qatar Airways said its interest in IAG was "purely financial" (Source: Getty)

Qatar Airways said this morning it had bumped its stake in the owner of British Airways up to 20 per cent.

The company, which announced last month it had bought a 15.67 per cent stake in the airline, said it now owns 20.01 per cent of International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Aer Lingus and Iberia.

IAG shares plummeted 35 per cent in the wake of the Brexit vote. Although they've regained some of those losses after IAG chief executive Willie Walsh insisted Brexit is unlikely to have a "material impact" on business (at one point they hit a low of 343.9p), the company is still something of a bargain.

Read more: London's most exclusive postcodes now home to "Qatari Quarter"

In its statement this morning, Qatar insisted its interest in IAG is "purely financial", although it added: "The increased shareholding reflects the strength of commercial and strategic ties between the companies and evidences the continued support for the ongoing strategy of IAG,"

"The recent market valuation of one of the world's leading airline groups has provided what we believe is an attractive opportunity to increase our shareholding in IAG," said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways' group chief executive.

"We continue to be highly supportive of IAG's strategy and management team and we do not intend to increase our percentage shareholding further unless there are material changes to the current situation."

On Friday IAG posted results showing it had taken a €148m (£125m) currency hit in the six months to the end of June thanks to the drop in the value of the pound.

Shares in IAG fell 1.3 per cent this morning, to 400.9p.

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