IAG says bids for control of Spain's Vueling Airlines

International Airlines Group said on Thursday it had launched an offer for full control of Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling Airlines, which is already almost half owned by IAG's Iberia.

"The offer will be 7.00 euros per ordinary share of Vueling with the total cost of acquiring 54.15 percent anticipated to be 113 million euros ($144 million)," said British Airways owner IAG in a statement.

Spanish airline Iberia has a 45.85-percent shareholding in the Barcelona-based Vueling, Spain's fourth largest airline in terms of passenger numbers.

"The price of the offer implies a premium of 27.97 percent to the closing market price of" Vueling on Wednesday, IAG added in its statement.

Vueling had said last month that it was expanding its network in 2013 to a total of 100 airports, with London, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf among the new destinations.

"With its leading position in Barcelona, European growth strategy and low cost base, Vueling has much to offer IAG," added IAG chief executive Willie Walsh in Thursday's statement.

"It has significantly increased capacity while remaining profitable, despite the Spanish economic slowdown, and already has extensive commercial arrangements with Iberia. We would plan to retain the current Vueling management team."

He added that Vueling "will benefit from the financial strength of a larger airline group, making it better able to compete with other airlines and invest in new customer products and services.

"The airline will also be able to generate some cost and revenue synergies as part of IAG mainly through joint financing and procurement."

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