The announcement about the sale of airBaltic shares in the international finance magazine Financial Times (FT) is merely a bluff. The main reason why the FT published that announcement for 18 thousand GBP is the investigation initiated by the Competition Directorate of the European Commission about «unauthorized State support».
Even though it is stated in the announcement that the Latvian government, through the Transport Ministry, announced the sale of 50% minus one shares of airBaltic, in truth neither the government nor TM made any decision about selling airBaltic shares, Pietiek reports.
This bluff, paid for from the company’s wallet, was not actually related to the intention to sell the airline’s shares, because it is clear to the government, TM and the expensive consultant Prudentia Advisers that there can be no buyers for airBaltic shares at the moment.
According to the portal’s information, in reality, the announcement in FT was made so that global society and the EC Directorate would understand that the Latvian State has no interest in keeping airBaltic shares and that it is currently searching for investors.
The only true reason for the announcement was to make sure the EC Competition Directorate does not initiate a case against airBaltic for unauthorized State support, which would result in long-term court proceedings and sanctions for Latvia.
There was no official response as how much this announcement cost to publish in the FT, as well as whether or not it is true that it was published with the sole purpose of convincing the EC that the State is looking for an investor – all responsible officials, when hearing these questions, unanimously called those facts incorrect and completely false.
TM press representative Aivis Freidenfelds, who confirmed that neither TM nor the government made any decisions regarding airBaltic sales, was relatively the most talkative.
He noted: «In order to resolve the issue regarding airBaltic, the TM attracted Prudentia as a financial consultant. The company is currently performing an assessment of any possible strategic investors, and only then the government will be submitted questions regarding the future model. As our international experience shows, one of the ways of attracting investors is publishing announcements in respectable international financial magazine Financial Times. airBaltic paid for the publication.»
TM press representative did not give any information as to the costs of the publication. Meanwhile, Prudentia partner and Board member Karlis Krastins remain silent as well. Krastins did not give any comments on the phone as well.
Investment banker Girts Rungainis and Janis Lielcepuris owned Prudentia Company’s daughter company Prudentia Advisers offers the airline consultations since October, 2011. Every week of consultations costs airBaltic around 13 000 LVL (with VAT), which is around 2.6 thousand LVL per day.