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Business News

BA trades for last time ahead of merger

BA will trade on the stockmarket for the last time today before its merger with Spanish carrier Iberia.

The merger will complete on Friday and shares in the new holding company, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), will be listed on stockmarket in London and Madrid on Monday morning.

The completion of the merger comes nearly 24 years after British Airways joined the London stockmarket in a high profile flotation that was 11-times oversubscribed.

BA and Iberia will retain their brands as part of the initiative that is expected to save 400 million euro (£337.3 million) a year by its fifth year.

The new airline group will have 419 aircraft flying to 205 destinations and will be Europe's second biggest airline by market value after Lufthansa.

BA will also benefit through Iberia's strong presence in south America, where BA operates only a handful of routes.

The newly formed group plans to aggressively expand through further acquisitions and has already drawn up a list of 12 companies it is interested in buying.

Willie Walsh will step down as chief executive of BA to take up the same role at IAG in a move that will see his basic pay increase 12% from £735,000 to £825,000 a year.

And he could pick up a potential cash-and-shares annual bonus of up to £1.65 million if he exceeds performance targets, capped at 200% of base salary.

Current BA chairman Sir Martin Broughton will remain in the post after the tie-up, but will also become deputy chairman of IAG and will earn 350,000 euro (£295,000) and an extra 175,000 euro (£148,000) next year to help with the demands of integrating the two firms.

BA was floated on the stockmarket on February 11 1987 at a price of 125p.

Its shares reached a peak of 760p on May 16 1997 after pre-tax profits reached £640 million in the year to March 1997.

Their lowest point, at 86p, came on March 12 2003 after its pre-tax profits slumped to £135 million. It was also the same year in which Concorde made its last commercial flight.

Shares were yesterday trading at around 293p.

BA shareholders are to receive one share in the new company for each of their existing shares.