Air France KLM Group (AF-KLM) has sold about half of its 15.22% shareholding in Amadeus IT Holding, netting it €467 million ($627.5 million).

The sale of 7.5% of its ownership in the travel technology and distribution company is surely part of its efforts to restore profitability. The Franco-Dutch group in January launched a three-year “transformation plan” to bring the company back to profitability by immediately cutting costs by €1 billion and rapidly reducing debt by €2 billion to €4.5 billion by the end of 2014 (ATW Daily News, Jan.13).

On March 8, AF KLM will announce financial results for its shortened nine-month financial year 2011. An analyst consensus forecast an operating loss of around €240 million and a net loss of up to €650 million. IAG this week announced a €555 million net profit for 2011 (ATW Daily News, March 1).

AF KLM sold the 7.5% stake in Amadeus though a private placement. Rothschild has acted as adviser of the Group. The placement was managed by Goldman Sachs International and Santander.

AF still retains 7.72 % of Amadeus IT Holding and said this brings its shareholding in line with Iberia’s and Lufthansa. The three carriers, together with SAS Scandinavian Airlines, founded Amadeus as a global distribution system (GDS) in 1987. 

“Air France, as well as Iberia and Lufthansa, which hold respectively 7.50 % and 7.61 % of the share capital of Amadeus IT Holding S.A., have each agreed to a lock-up of a 90-day period,” AF KLM Group said in a short statement.

Photo: Air France A330-200 tail. By Rob Finlayson