View Full Version : Belgian Companies "Bullied" Over Investments in DAT

The Guvnor
11th Dec 2001, 00:03
From today's FT. Looks like the future might be rather short for DAT...

COMPANIES & FINANCE INTERNATIONAL: Belgian companies 'bullied' on Sabena
Financial Times; Dec 10, 2001

Some of the biggest Belgian companies are complaining about being "bullied" to invest in the successor airline to Sabena, the bankrupt state-controlled carrier.

Interbrew, the Belgium-based brewer, said at the weekend it would not participate in the new airline, for which Maurice Lippens and Etienne Davignon, two industrialists chosen by the Belgian government, are trying to find investors.

Mr Davignon has said 35 groups and three regional investment funds will provide Euros 200m for the airline, which will be built around Sabena's still-operating regional subsidiary DAT.

"It would be difficult to justify our involvement to our international and institutional investors. We want to focus on our core beer business," said Interbrew.

Delhaize, the supermarket group, has already rejected the idea, while the government of Flanders, which controls the biggest investment fund asked to co-operate, says it still lacks the information it needs.

Other companies complain of "being bullied" and say it would be hard to justify investing in the successor to a bankrupt airline at a time of cost-cutting elsewhere.

Brussels International Airport, which is state controlled but has private investors, would have another dilemma, since it does not want to be seen as favouring one airline above others.

Another company has agreed to invest a token amount in the new airline, but in the form of a loan to avoid defending an "investment" to shareholders.

But Tractebel, Electrabel and Fabricom, three companies controlled by Suez of France, plan to invest Euros 25m (Dollars 22.3m) between them. Mr Davignon sits on the board of Societe Generale de Belgique, the holding company for Suez's interests.

Other companies are biding their time until Thursday, when a Brussels court is scheduled to rule on whether Sabena Interservices Center, the defunct airline's in-house bank, should itself be ruled bankrupt.

As the new airline needs Euros 100m from SIC, an unfavourable ruling could spell the end to Mr Davignon and Mr Lippens' efforts.