British Airways Parent Restricts Non-EU Citizens From Buying a Bigger Stake

(Bloomberg) -- IAG SA is freezing the percentage of its shares that can be held by non-European Union citizens and funds amid a lack of clarity about potential ownership restrictions following Britain’s exit from the bloc.

Non-EU shareholdings are restricted to the current level of 47.5 percent, London-based IAG said in a statement on Monday. Under EU rules, the airline could allow the figure to rise to just below 50 percent. Restricting it at the lower level gives IAG added breathing room to comply with the rules in case U.K. citizens, now part of the EU, are later recategorized.

The British Airways parent, whose units also include Spain’s Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, has yet to be given firm guidance from U.K. and EU governments on whether its ownership structure will need to be amended in order to remain in compliance after Brexit.

IAG has presented a contingency plan to the Spanish authorities that would allow it to meet ownership requirements, Spain’s Minister of Public Works Jose Luis Abalos said on Jan. 31.

Until further notice, IAG won’t restrict purchases of its stock by U.K. citizens, it said. The company didn’t disclose what portion of the remaining 52.5 percent of holders are split between subjects of the U.K. and the rest of the EU.

IAG’s biggest shareholder, Qatar Airways, holds a 21.4 percent stake in the company, according to its website.

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