Germany raised 760 million euros ($760 million) from the sale of the state’s full stake in Deutsche Lufthansa AG, unwinding all of the holding it took to keep the flagship carrier afloat during COVID-19 lock-downs.
The country’s Economic Stabilization Fund, or WSF, disposed of its remaining 9.92% of Europe’s largest airline via a placement with international investors, according to a statement. The government had earlier Sept. 13 announced the sale of a 6.2% holding.
Proceeds of 1.07 billion euros significantly exceed the 306 million euros invested, said Jutta Doenges, who is responsible for the WSF as managing director of the finance agency. With this outcome, “the participation of the WSF ends and the company is back in private hands,” she said.
The shares traded 4.4% lower as of 1:35 p.m. Sept. 13 in Frankfurt.
Lufthansa in November repaid the last of its 9 billion-euro bailout ahead of schedule, enabling the government to offload its stake at a profit. The state stepped in during 2020 to rescue the airline after pandemic-related travel restrictions all but grounded air travel.
Klaus-Michael Kuehne, Germany’s richest man, may have been one of the buyers, after saying he wants to acquire more shares. The billionaire is looking to boost his 15.01% stake according to a filing last week, after investing a chunk of a fortune he made in logistics.
The size of Kuehne’s holding would enable him to appoint a representative to Lufthansa’s supervisory board, according to a person familiar with the matter. Kuehne has in the past expressed interest in a place and there are four on the oversight committee due to become available next year.
The latest developments for the carrier come shortly after it reached an agreement that raises pay for pilots and excludes strikes for about a year in return. The airline has been wrestling with labor disputes that exacerbated an already chaotic summer travel season.