Lufthansa major shareholder Thiele increases stake to 15 percent

Does the rescue plan for Germany’s largest airline fail? The entrepreneur Heinz Hermann Thiele criticizes harshly in an interview with the FAZ – and drastically expands his influence.

Lufthansa planes at Munich Airport

Dhe Munich entrepreneur Heinz Hermann Thiele wants to renegotiate the rescue plan for the ailing airline Lufthansa with the entry of the state. According to the will of the major shareholder, the package is to be untied again.

In an interview with the FAZ, Thiele mainly defends himself against the planned 20 percent stake in Europe’s largest airline, which the state is to receive in return for its financial injection of nine billion euros. The plan was preceded by weeks of negotiations.

As an alternative to government aid, there is insolvency proceedings for Lufthansa, which has been hard hit by the Corona crisis. To underline its position, Thiele has increased its stake in the company from ten to 15 percent in the past few days. With the increase, he underscores the seriousness of his role as an anchor shareholder and his strong interest in the restructuring of Lufthansa, Thiele told the FAZ

22,000 jobs threatened

With the expansion of his share package, he – at the same time the majority owner of the commercial vehicle and rail supplier Knorr-Bremse – has built up a powerful counter-position to the upcoming federal investment. The action became known on Tuesday evening, a good week before Lufthansa shareholders are due to decide on state participation at an extraordinary general meeting on June 25th.

The management board chaired by Carsten Spohr and the supervisory board have already endorsed this. Without Thiele’s consent, the required two-thirds majority at the virtual shareholders’ meeting will most likely not be achieved, since all shareholders are never present.

In the end, he had not yet made a decision about his voting behavior, Thiele told the FAZ – and said that he did not want to block anything: “I rather hope that something can be achieved and set in motion in advance.”

Thiele vented his displeasure with the procedure in preparation for the general meeting. “I am bothered by the apodictic statement that there are no other, consensual solutions,” he said. As a shareholder, the state has a dual role and the necessary restructuring of Lufthansa could be delayed.

According to the Lufthansa management, around 22,000 jobs are available. In addition, the federal government is a beneficiary who receives the newly issued shares at a quarter of the current market price. As a compromise solution, Thiele can imagine an indirect participation by the state-owned KfW Bank, which is politically cautious.