Iberia says maňana to TPG-BA consortium

The consortium of US buyout firm TPG, British airline BA and three Spanish companies is still waiting for Iberia to open its books. Meanwhile disgruntled Iberia shareholders are considering making a counteroffer.

The consortium courting Spanish airline Iberia has been left waiting, and has been told it will be granted access to the airline’s books “soon” according to a letter.

BA’s consortium of US buyout firm TPG, Banco Santander’s investment vehicle Vista Capital, Spanish investment firm Inversiones Ibersuizas and Spanish private equity group Quertus asked to see Iberia’s books earlier this week.  

A BA spokesperson said: “We’ve requested access to their records and we will put a bid forward on the strength of what we see there – although €3.60 is the rough number we are talking about at the moment.”  BA has ruled out putting any more money forward beyond its ten percent stake in the company and it is by no means certain the consortium will table a formal bid, he said.  

BA also has first refusal on 30 percent of the company’s shares in addition to its 10 percent stake.

Despite this Reuters reported earlier today that unnamed Iberia shareholders were considering making a rival bid for the company. BA declined to comment about the rival bid. 

The spokesperson said while his company has access to Iberia’s routes to Latin America already, the terms of that deal will obviously change if a successful takeover is carried out.

The response to the consortium may come in about two weeks, Reuters was told by sources familiar with the deal.

TPG was recently defeated in its A$11.1 billion ($9 billion, €6.7 billion) bid for Qantas, Australia’s biggest airline, after it failed to win shareholder approval. However, the buyout firm has been shortlisted as a potential bidder for Italian airline Alitalia.

BA declined to comment about speculation fuelled by a Goldman Sachs advisory note earlier this week, claiming BA would be the “jewel in the crown” for a private equity firm.  Goldman has subsequently increased its stake in BA to 5.14 percent today according to UK newspaper The Times. Goldman is also advising the consortium on the Iberia bid.