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Niki Lauda selected to buy assets of Niki airline

© AFP/File | Niki was grounded in December after applying to open insolvency proceedings

VIENNA (AFP) - 

Austrian former racing driver Niki Lauda has been selected to buy the assets of Niki, the airline he founded in 2003, the administrators of the former Air Berlin subsidiary said Tuesday.

Lauda's bid was preferred over Anglo-Spanish group IAG/Vueling. It was the third offer the former Formula One driver had made since September for Niki -- formerly a unit of now bankrupt Air Berlin, and most recently operated by Lufthansa.

"At the end of a transparent tender, (the company) Laudamotion GmbH came out early in the morning as the best bidder," Niki's Austrian and German administrators said in a brief joint statement.

No details of the transaction have been revealed so far.

Lauda sold the airline to Air Berlin in 2011.

The administrators had specified the need for a swift green light from the authorities of the two countries for finalisation of the deal.

At the end of December IAG announced that it had been selected, as part of Air Berlin's liquidation procedure, to purchase "up to 15 A320 aircraft and a portfolio of attractive slots" owned by Niki.

The cost of the transaction, which was to be finalised at the end of February, was set at 20 million euros ($24.5 million), plus up to 16.5 million euros to provide liquidity for the company.

British Airways owner IAG had indicated plans to hire about 740 of Niki's 1,000 employees.

However the bidding procedure was relaunched in mid-January after Austria said it fell under its remit as Niki's head office was in that country.

Niki was grounded in December after applying to open insolvency proceedings.

Lufthansa, which had wanted to buy the holiday airline together with large parts of Air Berlin, had to abandon its plans because of EU competition concerns.

© 2018 AFP