Air France offer soon for KLM

Air France offer soon for KLM

Air France plans to launch its offer for Dutch rival KLM in early April after a delay to the landmark cross-border deal that will create the world's biggest carrier by revenues, the two airlines said on Wednesday.

"Air France and KLM are currently close to finalizing the elaborate offer and listing documentation. Therefore, the offer is expected to be launched early April 2004," they said in a statement.

Air France had previously said it wanted to start the offer by the end of March.

At current share prices, the deal values KLM at close to 840 million euros ($1.03 billion).

The two airlines have agreed to form a joint holding company under which the Air France and KLM brands would co-exist for three years. Under the unprecedented transnational agreement KLM will retain its foreign landing rights even though it will join a French-led holding company.

The company, Air France-KLM, will own 100 percent of both airlines but KLM will remain Dutch, with 51 percent of its voting rights held by the state and two foundations.

Air France's takeover of KLM will bring the Dutch carrier into the SkyTeam alliance, currently the world's third largest.

Italian airline Alitalia, also a member of the alliance, has said it would like to join the combined Air France-KLM company, but the French and Dutch carriers have said Alitalia must first restructure, stem its losses and be privatized by the Italian government.