Bloomberg News

SAS Shares Drop as Spanair Ends Operations: Stockholm Mover

January 31, 2012

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- SAS Group, the Nordic region’s largest airline, fell the most in almost three months in Stockholm trading as it wrote off its remaining stake in collapsed carrier Spanair SA.

The shares declined as much as 9.5 percent, the biggest intraday drop since Nov. 8. The stock traded at 8.95 kronor, down 5.8 percent, as of 10:22 a.m., valuing the Stockholm-based company at 2.94 billion kronor ($433 million).

“It’s too bad this happened and we of course would like to have seen a different outcome, but it’s completely manageable for us,” Sture Stoelen, SAS’s investor relations chief, said today in a phone interview.

SAS, which sold 80 percent of Spanair in March 2009 to a group of investors and now holds about 11 percent, said in a statement it would write down 1.7 billion kronor after Spanair filed for bankruptcy. The Spanish carrier’s statement didn’t mention a bankruptcy filing, saying “the appropriate next steps will be taken as soon as possible.”

Spanair ceased operations, citing “a lack of financial visibility for the coming months,” and the Spanish regional government refused to provide further funding. The final flight landed at about 10 p.m. Jan. 27, the Barcelona-based carrier said.

SAS, part-owned by the governments of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, hasn’t posted a full-year profit since 2007 as it struggled with high fuel costs and competition from low-cost carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle AS.

SAS will book the writedown in the fourth quarter, Stoelen said today. The carrier expects to make a profit in 2011 before non-recurring items, it said in a Jan. 27 statement, reiterating an earlier forecast. It will have a loss after accounting for the writedown, Stoelen said.

--Editors: Kim McLaughlin, Robert Valpuesta.

To contact the reporters on this story: Toby Alder in Stockholm at talder@bloomberg.net; Ola Kinnander in Stockholm at okinnander@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net; Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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