Lufthansa resumes talks to buy SAS stake


FRANKFURT – Deutsche Lufthansa has resumed talks on buying a stake in Scandinavian airline SAS, according to the industry sources. Talks could be concluded in 2009.

A spokesman for Lufthansa declined to comment on the report.

Last month a source familiar with the matter said Lufthansa had temporarily broken off talks to buy loss-making SAS to focus its efforts on Austrian Airlines and Alitalia. The German airline last week signed a deal to buy Austrian Airlines, a move that will make it Europe’s biggest airline as the industry struggles with the economic downturn. It is also competing with rival Air France-KLM for an alliance with Alitalia.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the talks to buy a stake in SAS were more difficult than those concerning Austrian Airlines had been as it needed to negotiate with the governments of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which together own 50 percent of SAS.

Chief Financial Officer Stephan Gemkow said last month that Lufthansa was in principle still interested in SAS, but said the company would wait for SAS to restructure its business first.

German media had reported that Lufthansa did not want to take over SAS’s loss-making unit Spanair.