IAG to keep Vueling as standalone entity under planned deal

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International Airlines Group has reaffirmed that it would keep Vueling as a stand-alone entity within the group if it completes its plan to acquire the outstanding shares in the Barcelona-based low-cost carrier.

IAG unit Iberia already holds a 45.85% stake in Vueling and under a proposed cash tender offer to take place next year, IAG is seeking to acquire the remaining 54.15% which it will hold separately from its Spanish operation.

"I think its a very good company with an excellent management team and we are going to let them get on with what they do best," said IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, speaking during a presentation to investors. "The most effective value can be achieved by Vueling being a standalone brand and operating company within IAG. We think it adds value as is."

He adds there are no plans to merge the carrier with recently launched Madrid-based short-haul operator Iberia Express. "We are not looking to integrate it with Vueling, which will be a standalone company with a focus primarily on Barcelona," he says, adding he believes it would be sub-optimal to combine the two different airlines.

The move for Vueling, following the acquisition of BMI this year and the deep restructuring at Iberia, marks a busy time for IAG and Walsh stresses this will be the group's main focus. "We are not looking to do anything beyond what we have outlined," he says, noting the main focus is on exploiting the opportunity of BMI, restructuring Iberia and completing the Vueling acquisition. "There is nothing else on our agenda," he says.