Shares in Scandinavian Airlines plunge to become almost worthless after rescue deal announced
October 4, 2023 By Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Shares in Scandinavian Airlines dropped more than 90% on Wednesday after the ailing carrier announced new shareholders in a restructuring scheme that will see the company delisted and existing ownership stakes erased.
The rescue deal involving airline alliance Air France-KLM and private equity firms Castlelake and Lind Invest, which became investors alongside the Danish state, was presented late Tuesday.
The deal means that SAS will receive $475 million in new equity and $700 million in convertible debt. Scandinavian Airlines will be taken off the stock exchange in the second quarter of 2024 and no payment will be made to current shareholders.
Castlelake will become the biggest shareholder with a 32% stake, while Air France-KLM will hold 20%. The Danish government will hold 26% of the shares. Lind Invest will control 8.6% and the remaining shares will “most likely … be distributed among and held by certain creditors who may receive recovery in equity,” SAS said in a comment.
Shortly after trading opened on Wednesday at Nasdaq Nordic, which owns most stock exchanges in the Nordic-Baltic region, SAS shares dropped 96% and climbed from there to an 84% drop.
“The SAS management has been very, very specific in saying that these shares will become worthless. This has been the case for over a year now,” Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen said.
Investment economist Per Hansen told Danish broadcaster TV2 that the reason why the share had not become totally worthless was that “as long as there is a pulse, there is hope. There will always be some who sit and speculate whether the share will rise again.”
The details and final documentation for the agreed transaction structure still must be finalized between the investors and SAS, the company said in a statement. The transaction will also need to be approved as part of SAS’s chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it added.
In July 2022, Scandinavian Airlines filed for bankruptcy in the United States, saying it had “voluntarily filed for Chapter 11, a legal process for financial restructuring conducted under U.S. federal court supervision.” By doing that it put civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances.
Airline chair Carsten Dilling said that “securing new capital is one of the key pillars” of its plan called SAS Forward, and that the new investment should help “facilitate our emergence from the US Chapter 11 process.”
Its CEO, Anko van der Werff, said the deal “shows that our new investors believe in SAS and our potential to remain at the forefront of the airline industry for years to come.”
The Swedish government’s stake will be wiped out under the proposed deal. SAS said it did not need approval of existing shareholders. Norwegian broadcaster NRK said it would affect some 255,000 shareholders.
The airline also will move from its current Star Alliance group and join Air France-KLM’s SkyTeam that counts Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, among others.
Created in 1946, Scandinavian Airlines has hubs in the three Scandinavian capitals — Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm — and flies to destinations in Europe and overseas. Scandinavian Airlines is part-owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark. In 2018, Norway sold its stake and the Swedish state had indicated it would put in no fresh money.