Qatar buys Cathay stake


Expanding its reach into the Asia-Pacific region, Qatar Airways agreed to purchase shares amounting to about 9.6 percent ownership in Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways. The investment in Cathay Pacific comes about three months after Qatar Airways said it had ended plans to acquire 10 percent of American Airlines, after that plan was met with resistance in the United States.

Cathay Pacific share fell 4.7% on Monday, as investors became concerned about the direction it was taking with Qatar on its registry.

The Doha-headquartered airline has acquired the 378,188,000 shares in Cathay Pacific from Kingboard Chemical Holdings Ltd, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Cathay Pacific chief executive Rupert Hogg said as members of the Oneworld alliance, "we look forward to a continued constructive relationship".

"This investment further supports Qatar Airways investment strategy which already includes 20% investment in International Airlines Group, 10% investment in LATAM Airlines Group and 49% investment in Meridiana".

Mr Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based senior analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, said that while Qatar Airways' investment in Cathay was likely to be passive, difficulties could arise if the two carriers tried to better integrate their hubs.

In a statement, the Hong Kong based airline said Air China and Swire Pacific would continue to hold almost 75% of its shares.

Swire Pacific holds a stake of 45% in Cathay, while Air China has 30%. It also removed its CX code from Qatar-operated flights beyond Doha.

And at the budget end, Asian-based low-cost carriers have won passengers happy to pay lower fares for a no-frills product on short- and medium-haul routes.