BA finds French partner for pounds 78m Air Liberte bid

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The Independent Online
British Airways last night tabled a fresh bid for the bankrupt French regional airline Air Liberte, this time in partnership with the Paris- based Groupe Rivaud.

BA and its French partner are offering to invest pounds 78m in Air Liberte, of which pounds 55m would come from BA giving it a majority 70 per cent holding.

The airline, which filed for banruptcy protection last month, is the subject of a rival bid from another carrier, AOR, which is owned by Credit Lyonnais. Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic has also expressed an interest.

BA's tactic in combining with a French partner is designed to circumvent opposition in France to Air Liberte being taken over by a foreign airline.

It has also been reported that the French authorities are keen not to allow Air Liberte's take off and landing slots at Paris Orly airport to be acquired by an overseas carrier.

Marc Rochet, chairman of BA's existing French alliance partner, TAT European Airlines, would take over as chairman and managing director of Air Liberte.