According to German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, three companies are involved in the race to take over Frankfurt-based German leisure airline Condor. The potential buyers for Condor include New York-headquartered Apollo Global Management, British investment company, Greybull and LOT Polish Airlines.
The three interested parties now have until the end of this week to submit binding offers for the bankrupt German airline.
The German government lent Condor money
Once the German arm of the defunct British tour operator Thomas Cook, Condor was allowed to keep flying, thanks to a safety net in German insolvency law.
Following the collapse of Thomas Cook last summer, Condor was given a six-month loan of €380 million ($420m) from the German government that allowed it to keep operating.
Once all the bids are in, they will be analyzed and studied for the next few weeks before a meeting takes place with the airlines’ creditors on March 5th, 2020.
Other possible Condor bidders that now seem unlikely
What is interesting now, is that when Thomas Cook went looking for investors is the spring of 2019 before its collapse, not one of the parties bidding for Condor showed any desire in putting up any money.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic was thought to have made a preliminary offer for the long-haul side of Thomas Cook’s business but now is unlikely to be interested in Condor due to its involvement with Flybe.
The German-Swedish investment company, Triton Partners was at the time interested in the Scandinavian arm of Thomas Cook’s business but does not seem interested in Condor.
Portuguese wet-lease specialist Hi Fly was also said to be interested in acquiring Thomas Cook assets, but now just no longer gets mentioned.
The situation with Indigo Partners is less clear with its low-cost Hungarian subsidy Wizz Air occasionally getting mentioned as a possible buyer of Condor. This, however, seems highly unlikely as the budget airline already has its strategy in place, which would conflict with a leisure airline’s operation.
Ideally, taking Condor under the umbrella of the massive Lufthansa Group seemed the best solution for Condors’ fate, yet German competition law seems to have put a damper on that ever happening.
Only one possible buyer stands out
Of the three possible buyers mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is really only one that stands out as a possible winner. Taking the least likely off the table first we would have to start with British financial group Greybull.
Born out of the 2008 financial crisis, Greybull offered businesses money when banks would not. Today, Greybull is known for buying distressed companies and, according to the Guardian, made £10 million ($13 million) out of Monarch Airlines before it collapsed in 2017.
As for LOT Polish Airlines, it is hard to see what kind of value a leisure airline would bring to the Warsaw-based carrier that would not impede its plans. Currently, LOT is buying new aircraft and expanding its route network.
This now just leaves Apollo Global Management as the best fit for Condor.
Apollo has a huge portfolio of companies that include media, leisure, and hotel companies. One obvious place where Condor would be a good fit is to use the airline in conjunction with its Las Vegas Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
Who do you think should buy Condor? Please let us know in the comments.