British Airways' owner to buy budget airline Norwegian?

Norwegian has been plugging efforts into low-cost long-haul

Norwegian has been plugging efforts into low-cost long-haul

IAG, holding that brings toger Iberia, British Airways and Level, has announced this Thursday that studies launch a takeover bid on Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (Norwegian), which has already acquired a share of 4.61%, as announced today group to National Commission of Stock Market (CNMV).

The statement indicates that the company bought an ownership position of 4.61 percent, which allows IAG to initiate discussions with Norwegian, "including the possibility of a full offer" for the Nordic carrier.

Norwegian said in a statement released via the Oslo stock exchange that it had been unaware that IAG had acquired a stake until press reports Thursday morning and had not held any discussions with the airline group.

However, Norwegian said it had no prior knowledge of the minority acquisition by IAG.

'Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest worldwide aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth'.

The firm has had a major impact on the long-haul market in Europe, undercutting rivals on trans-Atlantic ticket prices.

Norwegian started operating transatlantic routes from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast to airports in the New York-Boston region last summer.

As well as British Airways, Anglo-Spanish firm IAG also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. It would also put IAG into the pole position in the long-haul, low-priced market, for which Norwegian has been building a large base at London-Gatwick airport.

The Norwegian airline has experienced a strong expansion in recent years which has meant an additional financial effort.

Norwegian is a listed company on the Oslo Stock Exchange and is the sixth largest low-priced airline in the world.

There will be no buying Norwegian on the cheap, however, said SEB analyst Jo Erlend Korsvold.

"Norwegian has not been in any discussions or dialogue with IAG about the matter".

Norwegian Air carries over 30 million passengers a year and last year struck an agreement so easyJet customers could access its long-haul routes.

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