Air France has entered into exclusive discussions with Chinese group HNA for the sale of 49.99% of its catering subsidiary Servair and the transfer of the latter’s operational control, for an enterprise value of €475m (on a 100% basis), “with a view to creating the world-class leader in inflight catering”.
The news follows the recent announcement from HNA — a specialist in air transport, tourism, logistics and financial services — of its public tender offer for Switzerland’s gategroup, another major player in the catering industry. Subject to HNA's acquisition of gategroup, Air France and HNA want to create the leading platform in the inflight catering business by building on both companies' heritage, expertise and network.
The addition of Servair to gategroup would create an offer with more than 200 facilities and 39,000 employees serving more than 300 airline customers. The relevant works councils within the Air France-KLM group will be informed and consulted on the proposed transaction.
The transaction is the latest in a string of recent investments by HNA in Europe. These include: a 48% equity stake in French airline Aigle-Azur (2012), an 18% stake in French tourism services operator Pierre et Vacances (2015) and full ownership of Swissport, the world’s largest ground and cargo handling services provider (2015), which remains as a stand-alone business within the Group.
In addition to Aigle-Azur, HNA has interests in several airlines, including its flagship carrier Hainan Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Azul of Brazil and South African carrier Comair. HNA Aviation formed the world's first alliance of low-cost carriers, U-FLY Alliance, in January of this year.