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Struggling airline SAS weighs final bids from equity investors

Scandinavia’s biggest airline SAS AB has received a final round of bids from potential suitors looking to invest in the carrier as part of a rescue plan to shore up its ailing finances.

The Stockholm-based company, which is going through a Chapter 11 reorganisation in the US, needs to raise at least 9.5 billion Swedish kronor (S$1.17 billion) in new equity and convert or cut its debt pile of about 20 billion kronor. Chief executive officer Anko van der Werff has previously said the amount of equity is not set and could go higher.

The governments of Denmark and Sweden each own a 21.8 per cent stake in SAS, but only Denmark has said it is open to adding to its holding. Sweden indicated it will accept a conversion of debt it is owed into equity, but that it will not participate in a new capital raise. Norway’s government said it won’t contribute any new equity.

Other possible bidders include US-based Apollo Global Management, which provided the company with a US$700 million debtor-in-possession term loan as part of the Chapter 11 process. Earlier this year, media in Denmark reported that SAS would probably delist its shares since Apollo hoped to take a 70 per cent stake in the airline, with the Danish state taking the remaining 30 per cent.

“SAS will announce the winning bidder or bidders as soon as the evaluation process has been completed,” the carrier said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to an equity solicitation process that closed on Sept 25. BLOOMBERG