Lufthansa closer to sale of BMI Regional

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GERMAN airline Lufthansa has moved a step closer to selling its bmi Regional and bmibaby brands, the parts of the business that were not included in the sale of their parent company to IAG last year.

Lufthansa has found a buyer for bmi Regional, which operates from airports including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford and Manchester, and is close to naming a preferred bidder for bmibaby, the discount unit that flies across Europe.

“With bmi Regional we have concluded an agreement with a UK based investor group which is subject to certain pre-conditions which are to be fulfilled,” a bmi group spokesperson said in a statement.

“With respect to bmibaby there are several interested parties and we are in the process of identifying the preferred buyer and aim to conclude a purchase agreement as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added. The company declined to name any of the interested parties.

British Airways owner IAG agreed to buy bmi from Lufthansa in a £172.5m deal last December, but said at the time it had “no interest” in the regional brands.

It warned at the time that the price could be significantly reduced if a sale was not agreed before the completion of the deal, which should go through before the end of this quarter.

The progress will be welcome news to Lufthansa investors, with analysts previously admitting they were sceptical that a buyer for the businesses could be found.

At the time of the deal in late December, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh put Lufthansa’a chances of selling bmibaby at just “50/50”.