• SEPs could be expected by March this year.
  • SAA received ZAR5 billion on February 12.

February 19, 2021: The South African government has short-listed three potential strategic equity partners (SEPs) for South African Airways (SAA). The decision will be made next month or so to select the preferred partner,” according to public enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan told Bloomberg TV that the newly appointed interim board of SAA was engaging with the bidders before the government would make its decision.

As per ch-aviation, DPE has engaged Rand Merchant Bank as the transaction advisor after receiving about 30 expressions of interest. SEP could be expected by March this year, following the expected conclusion of the business rescue process by the end of February.

SAA has been in administration since December 2019. It hasn’t flown commercially since South Africa went into Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

Few news reports have named Fairfax Africa Holdings, Ethiopian Airlines as interested parties. However, Ethiopian's CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the airline was not interested in taking on SAA’s debt, or in injecting cash into the airline.

Meanwhile, SAA's administrators have confirmed to ch-aviation that they have to date received ZAR7.8 billion ($540.7 million) of the ZAR10.5 billion ($727.2 million) in state aid to implement SAA's rescue plan. Of this, they received ZAR5 billion ($346.6 million) on February 12.

The business rescue process has been delayed by legal battles as trade unions NUMSA, SACCA, and SAAPA cumulatively launched at least four applications against the administrators over the past year.

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