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Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 10 News List

China Eastern on the hunt for foreign strategic investors

AFP , SHANGHAI

China Eastern, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size, is seeking to attract Singapore Airlines and other foreign aviation giants as strategic investors, state media said yesterday.

China Eastern has set up a special panel charged with seeking foreign investment and has already entered into talks with possible buyers, the Shanghai Daily reported.

"The panel is negotiating with several potential strategic investors," an unidentified person close to the deal told the newspaper.

China Eastern president Li Fenghua (李豐華) said in April the company planned to sell a 20 percent stake to foreign strategic investors, it reported.

It said there was a growing trend for Chinese carriers to seek strategic investors, not just to get money to buy more planes but also to acquire foreign management expertise.

Apart from Singapore Airlines, other companies viewed by China Eastern as potential investors include Dubai-based Emirates and Japan Airlines.

A Singapore Airlines spokesman declined to react specifically to the report that it was in talks with China Eastern but said it was interested in the China market.

"From time to time, we have general discussions with other airlines about possible opportunities. This is true of China also which is a very important market in its own right for Singapore Airlines," he said. "However, there has been no decision to pursue any opportunities at this point in time."

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