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Qantas dismisses Emirates buy-in talk

SYDNEY, May 31 – Qantas Airways chief Alan Joyce on Thursday dismissed reports that it was considering selling a stake to Dubai airline Emirates.

“I don’t know where these stories have come from,” Joyce told reporters. “What I am seeing in the press is completely wrong.”

His comments come after analysts at Deutsche Bank said the troubled carrier’s recent decision to split its loss-making international arm from its domestic operations could open the way for an Emirates investment.

Deutsche Bank analyst Cameron McDonald said a direct investment in the lucrative domestic flights business could be on the cards, with a 30 percent stake estimated to be worth Aus$1.9 billion (US$1.84 billion).

“For Emirates, an investment in Qantas Domestic would provide a direct interest in a profitable Australian feeder network with dominant corporate market share,” McDonald said last week.

The Qantas Sale Act limits foreign ownership of the airline to 49 percent.

Emirates boss Tim Clark recently said he would be interested in working closer with Qantas on a code-share arrangement.

“I look at the way Qantas is today, and I think they would benefit from us as we would benefit from them,” Clark was quoted as saying by the Australian Financial Review.

Qantas last week said it would split its international and domestic arms as part of a drive to turn around its fortunes after an 83 percent slump in first-half net profit in the six months to December.

Each of the two entities, currently combined as Qantas Airways, will run as separate businesses from July with their own chief executives and reporting of financial results.

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