Lufthansa Gets Government Support Package

 - May 26, 2020, 11:06 AM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

Germany is set to become Lufthansa’s largest shareholder after the country’s Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) approved a €9 billion ($9.8 billion) financial support package for the company.

Under the long-awaited plan, the WSF will contribute what it calls “silent participation,” non-voting capital of up to €5.7 billion, of which some €4.7 billion it classifies as equity in accordance with the provisions of the German Commercial Code (HGB).  The WSF said it will also inject about €300 million in cash, raising its stake in the company to 20 percent. The Fund may also increase its stake to 25 percent plus one share in the event of a takeover of the company. German finance minister Olaf Scholz said the government plans to sell its stake when the company returns to financial health, reported Reuters on Monday.

Lufthansa will pay 4 percent interest on the “silent participation” in 2020 and 2021, after which the percentage would progressively rise to 9.5 percent by 2027. The group may pay the funds back whenever it wants. However, in the event of non-payment of the interest, the government can convert a further portion of its silent participation into a further shareholding of 5 percent of the share capital from 2024 and 2026, respectively, giving it an additional 10 percent in its flag carrier.

In addition to the above “stabilization measures,” Lufthansa secured a €3 billion credit facility repayable within three years. The loans will come from a consortium of banks, including German state-owned development bank KfW.  

Expected conditions include a waiver of future dividend payments and restrictions on management pay. In addition, the government will appoint members of two seats on the supervisory board, one of which would become a member of the audit committee. Except in the event of a takeover, the WSF said it won’t exercise its voting rights at the annual general meeting.

Lufthansa Group confirmed Monday the parties finally reached a deal, though it still requires the final approval of the management board and the supervisory board of the company. The bodies will meet “shortly” to adopt resolutions on the stabilization package. The capital measures remain subject to the approval of an extraordinary general meeting and the stabilization package to the approval of the European Commission and any competition-related conditions.

Lufthansa already has secured a bailout from the Swiss government for its Swiss International Air Lines and Edelweiss subsidiaries. Negotiations continue in Belgium and Austria for a rescue package for Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines, respectively.