BA leaves the LSE ahead of Iberia merger

Marion Dakers
BRITISH AIRWAYS will complete its merger with Spanish carrier Iberia today, with the enlarged company listing in London and Madrid on Monday morning.

The British Airways ticker retired from the London stock market yesterday after 24 years, with the stock price giving BA a final market cap of £3.46bn.

Investors will receive one International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG) share for each BA or Iberia share they own.

The listing of ICAG could be marred by fresh talk of further strike action, with the Unite union due to open a ballot for BA cabin crew staff today.

The new group will be Europe’s second largest airline after Lufthansa, with 419 aircraft flying to more than 200 destinations.

ICAG is set to have annual revenues of €15bn, though each carrier will retain its separate branding.

The merger, which was first mooted in 1998 when BA took a stake in then-state owned Iberia, is expected to save the firms €400m (£337m) a year by its fifth year.

The newly formed group plans to aggressively expand through acquisitions and has already drawn up a list of 12 companies it is interested in buying, with Asian carriers seen as the main target.

The companies spent five months renegotiating the merger leading up to the agreement in April 2010, after BA revealed its £3.7bn pensions deficit.

While BA has drawn up a plan to reduce its massive shortfall, it continues to face protests from disgruntled BA workers about moving some pensions to link them to the cheaper consumer prices index.