S African government sells 51% stake in SAA to consortium

South African Airways has been thrown a lifeline.

The South African government is selling a majority stake in SAA to Takatso consortium, which will initially commit more than 3 billion rand - or $221 million - to give the struggling airline a new lease of life.

SAA has been under a form of bankruptcy protection since December 2019.

But its fortunes worsened during the global health crisis and all its operations were mothballed last September when funds ran low.

The airline is one of a handful of South African state companies that depend on government bailouts, placing the national budget under huge strain at a time of rapidly rising debt.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said the consortium includes pan-African investor group Harith Global Partners and aviation group Global Aviation.

Takatso Chief Executive Gidon Novick said that an IPO for the airline is unlikely to happen within the next three years, and SAA would first need to become profitable.

Novick said Takatso would seek to relaunch SAA as soon as possible, prioritizing domestic services, first followed by regional destinations.

International long-haul routes would follow but would be selected carefully, and SAA would also work to forge partnerships with major carriers.

The South African government will have a "golden share" of 33% of the entity's voting rights and certain areas of national interest.

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