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Qatar Airways Wants 10% Stake In American Airlines; Shares Soar

25 June 2017

Shares of American shot up 5.2 percent in pre-market trading to $50.90. Qatar has submitted a filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act related to the intended investment.

American and other airlines, including Delta and United, have accused state-run Qatar Airways - along with United Arab Emirates airlines Emirates and Etihad - of getting unfair financial backing from their respective governments.

"Qatar sees a strong investment opportunity in American Airlines", the carrier said in a statement, adding that it "believes in American Airlines' fundamentals and intends to build a passive position in the company with no involvement in management, operations or governance".

The US carrier said anyone seeking to acquire at least 4.75 per cent of the company's stock is required to receive approval from its board.

"And do not worry, per US law, no foreign entity can own more than 25% of a USA airline", Parker wrote.

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The chilly response to Qatar's overture contrasted sharply with the celebratory reaction previous year after US financier Warren Buffett - a longtime critic of investing in airlines - bought big stakes in American, Delta, United and Southwest.

Government-owned Qatar Airways has been embroiled in its own troubles, such as the United States electronics ban, and a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors that allege Qatar supports terrorism, which the country denies.

American Airlines has received a notice that Qatar Airways plans to acquire a 10% stake in the USA legacy carrier, in what appears to be an unsought investment.

You have to hand it to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker; he never fails to surprise.

American has had its differences with Qatar Airways, among other Middle Eastern carriers, over state subsidies the USA air travel industry says violate worldwide agreements. The company said Thursday that it had not yet received a formal request from Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways also has designs on a stake as large as 10%, American said.

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American, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are in a nasty dispute with the three major airlines operating out of the Middle East, which have cut into lucrative worldwide routes for the US and European carriers.

Parker said that Qatar's solicitation will not change American's stance on the issue.

Qatar Airways has reclaimed the top spot in the 2017 Skytrax World's Best Airline rankings despite the decision of several Arab countries to ban the Doha-based carrier from using their airspace. Last year, it raised its stake in British Airways-parent International Airlines Group to 20%.

Alongside the World's Best Airline Award, Qatar Airways also received awards for the World's Best Business Class, the World's Best First Class Lounge and as the Best Airline in the Middle East.

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Qatar Airways Wants 10% Stake In American Airlines; Shares Soar