The German leisure carrier needs a new investor. A look at old and new interested parties and the new role of Lufthansa in the game for Condor.
Whoever wants to buy Condor has to submit a binding offer next week. According to reports in the German magazines Spiegel and Wirtschaftswoche, there are currently three serious contenders: the financial investor Apollo from the USA together with German tour operators, the Polish national carrier Lot and the British investment company Greybull.
What stands out: Not one of the companies that were interested in Thomas Cook’s airlines in spring 2019 seems to be a potential buyer now. The British parent company wasnt yet bankrupt yet at the time, but needed money and wanted to sell its airlines.
Virgin Atlantic is said to have made a preliminary offer for Thomas Cook’s UK long-haul business last summer. Whether Richard Branson’s airline was ever interested in Condor is unclear, but unlikely. But at the moment it has its hands full with the takeover of Flybe, which is once again in financial difficulty.
Last year, the German-Swedish investment company Triton Partners also tried to acquire the tour operator and airline business of Thomas Cook in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. With the purchase of Corendon Dutch Airlines, it is also already active in the aviation sector. Condor, on the other hand, does not seem to be an option for Triton this time either.
Wet lease specialist Hi Fly was also one of the potential interested parties in 2019, but is no longer being mentioned. The situation at Indigo Partners is somewhat less clear. The low-cost airline investor from the USA is no longer mentioned as a possible investor.
But the name of its Hungarian subsidiary Wizz Air occasionally comes up in the industry when it comes to Condor. Whether an acquisition of Condor would really make sense for Wizz is questionable. Their cost base is significantly lower than that of Condor. Moreover, they are clearly positioned as a low-cost airline and not as a leisure carrier.
Lufthansa lost interest
Lufthansa is the most interesting case. It submitted a non-binding takeover bid in May 2019. «We believe that we can offer Condor a perspective and maintain the unity of the company, with long-haul and short-haul flights», group CEO Carsten Spohr said at the Annual General Meeting last summer.
It was already clear at that time that Lufthansa would have difficulties getting an ok from the competition authorities. A little later, CFO Ulrik Svensson expressed much more scepticism and said it was unlikely that the deal would be accepted. Since then, things have quieted down, and Lufthansa maintains it would be difficult to buy Condor due to competition law.
Strong investor as nuisance
The crucial question is how the Group intends to build up its new low-cost brand for long-haul flights. Could it possibly use parts from Condor for this? Or does it prefer to do the whole thing alone without any legacy?
If Condor does not find an investor and disappears from the market, Lufthansa would certainly profit. If, on the other hand, the airline should find another strong investor, Carsten Spohr and Co. would certainly not be pleased.
And the new ones?
And the new investors? Apollo’s offer together with German tour operators is probably the most promising. They can present a conclusive project and above all their own demand. Greybull is a classic financial investor and with Lot it is difficult to see what added value Condor could bring to the Polish airline.