Takeovers panel clears Virgin

Govt panel declines to declare unacceptable circumstances for capital raising.

Virgin Australia Holdings (VAH) has welcomed a decision by the government Takeovers Panel declining to make a declaration of unacceptable circumstances after Stephen Mayne applied to amend the terms of the airline's capital raising.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the Takeovers Panel said the outcome of the airline's $350 million entitlement offer will be to maintain substantially the structure of its share register.

The airline's equity raising plans will see three foreign airlines - Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines - lift their collective stake in the company from 62.6% to up to almost 70%.

"The Takeovers Panel's decision allows the entitlement offer to continue as planned on its original terms and timetable," the company said.

"The Virgin Australia board commends the entitlement offer and it is hopeful that all eligible retail shareholders will support Virgin Australia by taking up their entitlements."

Mr Mayne had applied to the panel to allow retail shareholders to apply for extra shares, opposing a cap allowing them to apply for only 40 per cent of their entitlement.

He said the offer was structured in a way that concentrated the control of three foreign institutional investors at the expense of other shareholders.

He sought orders removing the cap for retail investors and blocking Etihad from lifting its stake in Virgin.

The panel said there may be circumstances where a cap on subscriptions for additional shares would be unacceptable, but that was not the case here.

Virgin last month told shareholders there would be no change in control of the company even though foreign investors Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways are set to raise their stake from 63% to 70% of the local airline as it issues new shares.

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