IAG caps number of non-EU shareholders to protect European flying rights


Under European Union (EU) rules, airlines wishing to have flying rights in Europe must be at least 50% EU-owned. As a consequence, IAG, owner of British Airways, has blocked investors from outside the EU by setting a non-EU investor cap at 47.5%, a threshold which has already been reached. The move follows on from easyJet who increased the cap on non-EU investors in its airline to 49%.

IAG, which also owns Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, has confirmed that it does not intend to freeze out UK investors after Brexit, adding that it would inform investors of the change.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Clearly something needs to be done before the UK falls into the category of no longer being in the EU.

‘It’s a bit of a warning lamp for the nuts and bolts that may have to change once we leave the EU.

‘This is an indication of the scale of work outstanding in terms of what the implications of being outside the EU actually are.

‘Unless the company does something to change this rule, then in the longer-term there’s going to be a shareholder base in the UK who may fall foul of the rules as well.’

IAG would not disclose how many of its investors are based in the UK. Currently, its biggest shareholder is Qatar Airways, with a 21.5% stake.

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