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Accor drops bid for Air France stake

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Paris (AFP)

French hotels giant AccorHotels said Thursday it has dropped plans to buy a minority stake in AirFrance-KLM, which has been wracked by months of crisis triggered by a wave of strikes.

On June 3 Accor said it was mulling the acquisition of a minority stake in the embattled carrier.

Air France is still looking for new leadership after its CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac resigned in May when employees rejected his offer in labour negotiations.

French financial newspaper Les Echos had earlier reported that Accor was considering taking over all or part of the French government's 14.3 percent holding in the airline.

Analysts at the time had questioned whether Accor would benefit from such a takeover, given Air France's crisis.

The government's stake in Air France is currently worth about 450 million euros ($530 million), though Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in May there was no plan to sell the stake as part of a privatisation drive.

On Thursday, in its half-year earnings statement, Accor said it has dropped any plans to take over the carrier.

"Given that required conditions for the acquisition of a minority stake in Air France-KLM have not been met at this stage, AccorHotels has decided not to further pursue this opportunity," the hotels group said.

Speaking to reporters by phone, Accor's chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Morin said the group remains certain that partnering with airlines can reap significant benefits.

"Are we able to come to an agreement with Air France and to have the conditions in place which at this stage allow us to go ahead (with an acquisition)? The answer is no," Morin said.

Air France-KLM is currently led by a non-executive head, Anne-Marie Couderc. Her main task is to recruit a new leader for the firm.

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