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American Airlines raises stakes in JAL bidding war

TOKYO, Jan 12 – American Airlines on Tuesday upped the ante in a bidding war with rival Delta Air Lines for a stake in Japan Airlines, which is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

American Airlines and its partners lifted their proposed investment in Asia\’s biggest carrier to 1.4 billion dollars, from a previous offer of 1.1 billion dollars, the US carrier announced at a Tokyo news conference.

American has teamed up with its Oneworld alliance partners and private equity company TPG to woo JAL, which has also been offered a one-billion-dollar financial package from Delta, the world\’s largest carrier.

American and Delta are competing to tie-up with JAL and increase their share of the lucrative Asian market.

"This proposal demonstrates Oneworld\’s extraordinary commitment to JAL," American Airlines executive vice president Thomas Horton said in the statement.

"It brings stability and certainty to Japan Airlines at a time when it is most needed, as it faces turbulent times over the coming weeks and months."

Delta, which belongs to the SkyTeam airline alliance, is seeking to lure JAL away from the Oneworld grouping.

JAL shares dived almost 45 percent in early trade on Tuesday, battered by deepening fears that investors will see their stakes wiped out under a widely expected bankruptcy filing.

Media reports said that the debt-ridden airline is likely to be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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JAL, which lost about 1.5 billion dollars in the six months to September, is seeking its fourth government bailout since 2001 to enable it to keep flying in the face of mounting debts.

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