Private equity groups pursue Qantas

Nov. 22, 2006 at 9:03 AM

SYDNEY, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Two private equity groups are bidding for Australia's Qantas Airways, the nation's largest airline, The New York Times said Wednesday.

Qantas said Macquarie Bank in Sydney and Texas Pacific Group have both made offers, which assorted media estimate at approximately $8.5 billion.

The carrier's share price has suffered from high fuel prices and falling profits. And with low interest rates empowering well-heeled investors and the appeal of Qantas' strong cash flow, it is now in public play.

"It's got one of the healthiest balance sheets in the industry," said Ian Thomas, a consultant for the Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation in Sydney, adding that the company's cost-cutting program seemed to be working well.

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