Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways open to more stake buys: CEO
By Stanley Carvalho and Praveen Menon
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier which has been on a recent acquisition spree, is eyeing further investments if the right opportunity arises, its chief executive said on Sunday, adding 2012 revenue could top $5 billion for the first time.
"We see further equity investments only if it's the right opportunity, right partner, right market and right price," James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive said at an aviation conference in the United Arab Emirates' capital.
Unlisted Etihad has been on an acquisition drive in recent months, taking minority equity stakes in Virgin Australia VAX.AX and Aer Lingus AERL.I and raising its shareholding in Air Berlin (AB1.DE: Quote) and Air Seychelles.
Any future acquisitions would follow the same theme, with Etihad not interested in majority ownership, Hogan said, adding that the airline will continue to extend its codeshare network, which contributes around 20 percent of its revenue.
"Our equity model is about growth, not control," Hogan said.
"Through partners, we stretch our reach and it gives us the ability to compete with our immediate neighbors," he said, in a reference to major rivals, Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Etihad's revenue this year is expected to pass the $5 billion mark for the first time, despite the wider aviation sector being under pressure from the global economic downturn and high fuel costs, Hogan said.
The airline, which had revenues of $4.1 billion in 2011, generated $281 million in revenues from partnerships in the first half of 2012, he said.
(Editing by David French)
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