The government of The Netherlands has acquired a 12.68% stake in the Air France / KLM Group through the purchase of shares. The goal of the government is to obtain a stake equivalent to France’s stake. By acquiring the stake, the government wants to exert direct influence on future developments of the Group in order to guarantee Dutch public interests.
On 26 February 2019, Minister of Finance Hoekstra and Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Van Nieuwenhuizen informed the Senate and the House of Representatives by letter on their intent. The acquisition of shares started on 20 February 2019 and the Dutch state now holds 12.68% of the shares of Air France-KLM.
“Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and KLM – its biggest operator – are of great importance for the Dutch economy and employment. Thousand of jobs are directly and indirectly involved with the airport and KLM’s intercontinental network. This network is also an important reason for foreign companies to settle in The Netherlands,” the Government (Rijksoverheid) wrote.
In recent years, however, it has become clear that important decisions about KLM’s strategy were increasingly taken at the level of the Air France-KLM holding company. In addition, discussions about the strengthening of existing agreements, about the public interest (state guarantees) and about management structure were difficult.
With the acquisition of shares in Air France-KLM, formal influence has now been obtained at the highest level within the holding company and the public interest of the Dutch State is better secured in future decision-making. “Direct involvement is necessary for this“, says Minister of Finance Hoekstra. In addition, with the shareholding in the holding company, the Cabinet wants to show that it believes in the cooperation between Air France and KLM and in a strategic partnership with France in this Group.
In addition to this share package, the talk with Air France and the French state will continue on state guarantees and governance. Further agreements between Air France-KLM and KLM on the management and position of KLM CEO Pieter Elbers have already been made.
All in all, the Dutch cabinet now gives sufficient confidence that Dutch public interests, which are connected with the destinations network at Schiphol and the business climate of the Netherlands, can be better secured. Says Hoekstra: “This means that Air France-KLM can focus on the future in which it will have to compete with other airlines. The company will have to become more competitive for this. That is in the interest of KLM and Schiphol and therefore in the public interest of the Netherlands. As a shareholder in Air France-KLM and in KLM, the Dutch state is on top of it.”
The Dutch state already held a 5.9% interest in KLM.