Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)’ stock value took off this week after German carrier Lufthansa’s chief executive said that SAS was performing so well that it might attract a takeover offer. The two airlines, both members of the Star Alliance, already cooperate through route sharing.
Speculation has flown for years that SAS and Lufthansa might join forces, but SAS’ severe financial problems last year seemed to put any deal on ice. Lufthansa officials now deny that they have any takeover plans of their own.
It was during a meeting with journalists earlier this week that Lufthansa’s outgoing CEO Christoph Franz was asked for his assessment of SAS by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that he responded by highly commending SAS’ development under its own CEO, Rickard Gustafson.
His positive comments about SAS were interpreted as a sign of Lufthansa’s interest in SAS, but Lufthansa believes it was misunderstood, claiming that Franz was speaking in general terms and not revealing any specific purchase interest on the part of Lufthansa. SAS shares nonetheless jumped by as much as 27 percent, before settling back down again Thursday afternoon.
At one point SAS’ stock value was higher than that of rival airline Norwegian, which has been suffering serious trouble with its new intercontinental service. On Friday, Norwegian passengers faced another major delay because of more hydraulic problems on one of its Dreamliner aircraft.