Buyer snaps up $7m stake in Virgin
A large slab of shares in Virgin Australia changed hands on Tuesday, in the airline's biggest day of trading since Air New Zealand became the largest shareholder early last month.
The buyer was unknown but it comes just weeks after Middle East airline Etihad gained approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board to increase its stake in Virgin from 10 to 19.9 per cent.
Virgin's two largest shareholders, Air NZ and Singapore Airlines, confirmed they were not buyers of the stock on Tuesday. Etihad was unable to respond to inquiries by the time of going to press.
The single parcel of 13.5 million shares sold for 44.5¢ apiece, a total of almost $7 million.
It amounted to less than 1 per cent of Virgin's issued capital.
Air New Zealand wants to boost its stake from 23 to 26 per cent but still needs approval from FIRB to do so.
Singapore Airlines also became Virgin's second-largest shareholder several months ago after buying half of Sir Richard Branson's holdings in the Australian airline.
It comes as Qantas keeps funnelling money into the coffers of states and territories rather than Tourism Australia.
Qantas' latest three-year deal is a $7 million agreement with the Northern Territory.
The decision to allocate funds to the states rather than Tourism Australia follows a breakdown in relations between Qantas boss Alan Joyce and the tourism body's chairman, Geoff Dixon, late last year.