Airline in crisis Lufthansa wants to get rid of state influence
Status: 15.06.2021 9.45 a.m.
The largest German airline wants to raise additional money on the capital market for its realignment. In doing so, the group is trying to reduce the federal government’s ability to influence as quickly as possible. Lufthansa has initiated its planned capital increase. According to a mandatory announcement yesterday evening, the aviation group mandated four banks to implement the measure. However, according to the announcement “The Management Board and the Supervisory Board have not yet made a decision on the scope and timing of a possible capital increase”. Companies raise capital by issuing additional shares; the shares of the existing shareholders are thus diluted. The company is now implementing the approval of the shareholders received at the general meeting in May. The airline is allowed to raise up to 5.5 billion euros in fresh capital on the capital market. According to media reports, the management initially only wants to mobilize around three billion euros in order to push ahead with the restructuring of the company.
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Billion dollar rescue package
Lufthansa also wants to reduce the influence of the state through the capital increase. Lufthansa was in dire straits due to the Corona crisis and had to be supported by Germany and its other locations with a financial framework of nine billion euros. Germany accounted for a total of 6.8 billion euros of the state rescue package for Lufthansa. However, the airline group only made use of around two billion euros of the guaranteed funds. Half of this has already been repaid with the money from new bonds, so that Lufthansa currently owes the state around one billion euros. A capital increase of three billion euros would enable the company to repay this amount earlier than previously planned. The state would then soon have to sell its block of shares, for which it paid around 300 million euros.
Group wants to drastically reduce costs
With the withdrawal of the state participation, Lufthansa would have more leeway again. Because in return for state aid, the company has to adhere to various conditions: for example, a ban on paying dividends to shareholders or distributing interest to bond owners. Bonus payments to managers are also not yet possible. So far, the plan was not to pay off the state aid until 2023. Even drastic cost savings are probably easier to implement without government influence. According to earlier information, Lufthansa wants to reduce the number of employees in Germany by another 10,000 to 100,000. To this end, Lufthansa wants to lower tariff standards, encourage employees to leave the company voluntarily, but also issue redundancies for operational reasons. The unions had already made concessions in the Corona crisis, but recently accused Lufthansa of evading tariffs.
The approval of the state fund is still pending
The federal government’s economic stabilization fund (WSF), which has a 20 percent stake in Lufthansa, is expected to participate in the capital increase – but without spending additional taxpayers’ money on it. The WSF still has to approve the plan, said Lufthansa. The Corona financial aid fund wants to participate in the capital increase with a so-called “Operation Blanche”. A shareholder sells part of his subscription rights for the new shares in order to exercise the remaining subscription rights with the proceeds. No additional tax revenue is required for this transaction. The MDAX company also announced a new profit target for 2024 in the evening. By then, experts estimate that aviation should return to pre-crisis levels. The adjusted operating margin, i.e. the ratio of operating profit to sales, should then reach at least eight percent, and the return on investment should be at least ten percent.