MIAMI – It has emerged that bankrupted carrier Virgin Australia (VA) has a list of potential buyers to save the carrier, according to reports from Reuters.
BGH Capital, Bain Capital, Indigo Partners, and Cyrus Capital Partners are the four firms named to be on the short-list.
It is understood that the deadline for final offers from the four businesses are due on June 12, before administrators consider each proposal.
Each business will receive information about the financial and operational information of the carrier including meetings with financiers, landlords, suppliers, trade unions and other stakeholders before making the final offers.
Virgin Australia went into administration last month, with debts amounting to around USD$4.5b, making it the biggest casualty of Coronavirus in the Asia-Pacific segment of the industry.
The airline had done this voluntarily after recording around £2.55b in debt as well as having a £714m bailout request from the federal government rejected.
This segment of the market would be useful for each of the firms that have been whittled down to the last four as it is a chance to take control of the duopoly of the Australian market, which was led by the airline and competitor Qantas.
For a buyer to be named and announced, it would potentially save around 10,000 direct jobs and 5,000 workers employed in supply-chain operations.
Each buyer has some level of experience in the industry, whether it owns stakes in airlines or not.
Bain Capital currently owns Trans Maldivian Airways (M8), but according to Planespotters.net, its two ATR 42 aircraft have been listed as Historic, stating that it is not operating its own aircraft. It does, however, run a seaplane terminal with some leased aircraft.
It is understood that Bain has hired former JetStar (JQ) CEO Jayne Hrdlicka to strengthen its bid. Hrdlicka would bring in her expertise into the Australian sector, given Qantas (QF) owned the carrier.
BGH’s founder Ben Gray, led a take-over offer in 2006 to acquire QF but subsequently failed, but has no other experience in this field as BGH aims to expand its portfolio.
IndiGo (6E) Partners could be seen as the significant front-runner for this bid given its successful endeavor in the aviation industry.
Owning successful chains such as Frontier Airlines, JetSmart in Chile, Volaris in Mexico, and Wizz Air in Hungary, it could be suggested that 6E has the cash and is able to turn-over the airline into a success once again.
Cyrus Capital – Ring Any Bells?
The final front-runner for this bid is Cyrus Capital, which since the demise of UK regional carrier Flybe (BE), has become considerably well-known.
The news closes a turbulent time for the company, which saw it negotiate a rescue deal with the British Government and its take over by Connect Airways, both efforts ultimately proving to be unsuccessful.
A total of £2.8m for the total takeover bid was made in 2019, plus £10m for immediate support of the company, with £80m confirmed for later use.
Despite the funding given by Connect Airways, January 2020 saw BE returned to the headlines once again with financial issues. This time, the British Government stepped in.
After talks with the airline, the British Government allowed BE to defer paying tax debts, as an attempt to keep the carrier going. The Government also launched a review of air passenger duty on domestic flights. These measures kept BE going for a little bit longer.
In the end, the deal wasn’t sufficient, with BE entering talks with the British Government again, this time for a £100m rescue loan. Due to the nature of the request, the EU had to be consulted to ensure the loan would not break any state aid laws.
The final nail in the coffin for BE was said to be the Coronavirus outbreak, with fewer people traveling than usual. This cast an overall doubt over the loan, which never came about.
For Cyrus Capital, it could be suggested that the fight to win the bid for this carrier may be a little more difficult, given such a history like that.
If it was to secure a bid, it would have to produce short-term commitments of significant liquidity to bring the airline back from the dead.
Positivism Ahead for Virgin Australia?
It could be suggested the fact that administrators had to whittle down the list from 19 buyers to four would be good news for the revival of Virgin Australia.
It was probably a given that the sector wasn’t going to let go of this airline that easily, otherwise it may have caused a domino effect on price fares from the likes of Qantas, who would have then owned the monopoly of the Australian segment.
Whoever becomes the winner next month will have the ultimate challenge to strip assets down and remove any sense of a loss-maker in order to become competitive and ready for when this pandemic comes to a halt.