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Russia's Aeroflot to bid for Czech Airlines - paper


MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russian flagship air carrier Aeroflot will file an application on Monday to join a tender for the sale of Czech Airlines (CSA), business daily Kommersant reported.

The Russian company, viewed as one of the favorites at the tender, will face competition from bidders including Air France-KLM, which is ready to offer up to 200 million euros ($274 million) according to unofficial information, the paper said.

Transport Minister of Russia Igor Levitin earlier questioned the need for Aeroflot to participate in the tender. However, if the Russian air carrier still decides to bid for CSA, it has a good chance of success, analysts told the paper.

In line with the tender's preliminary requirement, the prospective winner of a 91% stake in Czech Airlines must maintain the company's status as a national air carrier, and invest in the development of Prague airport, the paper said.

Analysts say CSA could be an advantageous purchase target for Aeroflot.

"Judging from the dynamics of CSA in the past few years, the company has a strong management team, which has worked out a comprehensive strategy of operations," Oleg Panteleyev, head of the analytical department of the Aviaport information web portal, told the paper.

In contrast with many other European air companies, CSA posted profit of 18.8 million euros ($25.8 million) in 2008, the analyst said.

At the same time, the success of the deal will depend on what terms Aeroflot will be able to raise funds to finance the transaction, Panteleyev said.

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