Apax ready to swoop as it prepares partial bid for Olympic Airlines

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Olympic Airlines, the national Greek flag carrier formed from the ashes of its namesake Olympic Airways just two months ago, is tipped to be sold to the British private equity group Apax Partners. The venture capital firm is likely to swoop on the €115m (£79m) airline next month with a bid for control, following its expected privatisation after Greece's general election.

Apax, renowned for investment successes such as the yellow pages group Yell, is expected to pitch an offer for at least 51 per cent of the airline to Olympic Investors, the holding vehicle set up by the Greek government, according to weekend reports. It will be the firm's first move in the aviation sector and will come before this summer's Olympic Games in Athens.

The Greek carrier has courted controversy at home and abroad since December's rescue deal. The European Commission has sought to prove its suspicions that the Greek government's support breaches subsidy rules, while the airline's flight attendant unions have opposed new contracts.

The $600m (£330m) of debt that grounded Olympic Airways was left at the old company, which still controls the carrier's ground handling, cargo and technical divisions.

Representatives from Apax met the Greek transport minister, Christos Verelis, last month to discuss terms.