Tamsyn Parker

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor

Air NZ's Luxon joins Virgin board

Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon is about to join the board of Virgin Australia. Air NZ owns nearly 25pc of the Australian carrier.  Photo / Alan Gibson
Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon is about to join the board of Virgin Australia. Air NZ owns nearly 25pc of the Australian carrier. Photo / Alan Gibson

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon is to take up a seat on the board of Virgin Australia after being invited to join as a director.

The offer was widely expected as part of a A$350 million rights issue completed by Virgin last year in which Air Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad increased their stakes from 62.6 per cent to 67 per cent.

The issue created a furore across the Tasman with Qantas claiming it gives Virgin an unfair advantage and the Australian Shareholders Association saying a cap on smaller retail investors disadvantaged them.

ASA spokesman Stephen Mayne applied to the Takeovers Panel, arguing the equity-raising had been structured to concentrate control of the company in the hands of the foreign airlines.

He had sought orders removing the cap for retail investors and blocking Etihad from lifting its stake in Virgin.

But the complaint was rejected in December clearing the way for the capital raising.

The panel concluded that any shortfall would be dispersed effectively between Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines through sub-underwriting arrangements and that the outcome of the entitlement offer would be to maintain substantially the structure of Virgin Australia's share register. It said the plan was not against the public interest and declined to make a declaration of "unacceptable circumstances"

Air New Zealand's stake in Virgin is now close to 25 per cent. Air New Zealand said Luxon would take up the seat once the appropriate protocols were in place.

Air New Zealand shares last traded at $1.69 and have risen 36 per cent in the last year.

- NZ Herald

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