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France seeks 'clarification' after surprise Dutch purchase of significant stake in Air France-KLM

Charles Platiau, REUTERS | Models of inflatable Air France planes are seen during a protest against pension reform in Paris on October 19, 2010.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the Dutch government must "clarify its intentions" after purchasing a significant stake in the Air France-KLM alliance without first informing Paris.

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"The government was not informed of this decision nor its implementation ...," Macron said at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday. "It is now up to the Dutch government to clarify its intentions."

"The important thing ... is to ensure the company's interests are served," Macron added.

Tensions within the Dutch-French alliance are on the rise after the Netherlands' acquisition of a 12.68 percent stake put it on course to challenge France's own holding, which currently stands at 14.3 percent.

While the Netherlands did not own shares in the France-KLM alliance before the purchase on Tuesday, it did own a 5.92 percent stake in KLM itself.

An anonymous finance ministry source told the AFP news agency that the transaction was viewed by Paris as a hostile move for more control.

"The way this stake was acquired resembles the techniques of a trader instead of a state shareholder – it is both very surprising and unfriendly towards Air France's board and other shareholders," the source said.

Following the transaction, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that: “With this share purchase, the Dutch cabinet wants to be able to influence the future development of Air France-KLM directly to serve the Dutch public interest."

"The aim is, eventually, to acquire an interest that almost equals that of the French state," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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