The Dutch state acquires 12.68% of the shares in Air France-KLM

The Dutch State has acquired a 12.68% direct interest in airline Air France-KLM S.A. through the purchase of shares. The objective is to obtain a position which is similar to the position of the French state. Through its shareholding, the Dutch government wants to be able to exercise direct influence over future developments at the Air France-KLM holding company to ensure that Dutch public interests are optimally assured.

Minister Hoekstra (Finance) and Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) informed the Dutch Lower House of Parliament and the Dutch Senate by letter about the share purchase on 26 February 2019. The process to acquire the shares started on 20 February 2019 and the Dutch State currently holds approximately 12.68% of the shares in Air France-KLM.

The position of Schiphol airport and its most important user KLM are of great importance to the Dutch economy and employment. Thousands of jobs are directly and indirectly involved with the airport and the intercontinental network of KLM. That network is also an important reason for foreign companies to establish their businesses in the Netherlands.

In recent years, it has become apparent that significant decisions about the strategy of KLM have increasingly been taken at the level of the Air France-KLM holding company. In addition, discussions about the reinforcement of existing agreements about the public interest (state guarantees) and the 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 interests of the Netherlands are better secured in future decision-making. “Direct involvement is required for this”, says Minister of Finance Hoekstra. In addition, with the shareholding at holding company level, the Dutch government wants to show that it believes in cooperation between Air France and KLM and in a strategic partnership with France with regard to this airline.

In addition to the acquisition of the shares, the discussions with Air France and the French state about the state guarantees and governance will be continued. Further agreements have already been made between Air France-KLM and KLM on the management and position of KLM CEO Pieter Elbers.

All considered, the Dutch government sufficiently comfortable that the Dutch public interests, which relate to the network of destinations operated from Schiphol and business environment of the Netherlands, are better secured. Hoekstra: “This means that Air France-KLM should be able to focus on the future in which it will have to face strong competition from other airlines. The company will have to become more competitive in order to do 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 KLM, the Dutch State is on top of it.”

The Dutch State already holds a 5.9% interest in KLM.