Russian Investor Blavatnik Sells Air Berlin Stake

January 8, 2009

Germany's Air Berlin said on Thursday that US billionaire Len Blavatnik sold his 18.9 percent stake in the carrier, leaving market participants guessing who bought the holding.

Recorded trading volumes show that Blavatnik, whose largest company, petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell, has filed for bankruptcy protection, did not sell his Air Berlin stake via the stock market.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, previously thought to be interested in building a stake in the German carrier, said it did not buy Blavatnik's stake.

Since the Russian investor bought the Air Berlin stake in the spring of 2008, its market value has halved, falling to about EUR56 million euros (USD$75.91 million), based on Thursday's closing price.

The US operations of petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell, which is part of Blavatnik's international empire, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week.

AirWise, © Ascent Pacific 2009

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