Fears of a Brexit freeze out as BA owner IAG caps number of shares that can be held by non-EU investors
British Airways’ owner has blocked investors outside the European Union from buying its shares – sparking fears UK traders could also be frozen out after Brexit.
IAG announced last night that it has capped the maximum number of its shares that can be held by non-EU investors at 47.5 per cent and that this threshold has been reached.
It means IAG will prevent any investor from outside the EU from buying shares.
British Airways owner IAG says it has has capped the maximum number of its shares that can be held by non-EU investors at 47.5 per cent and that this threshold has now been reached
Any investor who does acquire shares will have voting rights removed and be forced to sell them within ten days.
A spokesman said: ‘There can be no assurance as to when, or if, the permitted maximum will be removed.’
Under EU rules, airlines must prove they are 50 per cent EU-owned to have flying rights within the bloc. Last month, EasyJet increased the cap on ownership by non-EU investors to 49 per cent.
IAG, which also owns Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, insisted it had no plans to freeze out UK shareholders after Brexit, but said it would inform investors if this changed.
But analysts warned that the announcement demonstrated the amount of work needed to be done to protect British shareholders after leaving the EU.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Clearly something needs to be done before the UK falls into the category of no longer being in the EU.
‘It’s a bit of a warning lamp for the nuts and bolts that may have to change once we leave the EU.
‘This is an indication of the scale of work outstanding in terms of what the implications of being outside the EU actually are.
‘Unless the company does something to change this rule, then in the longer-term there’s going to be a shareholder base in the UK who may fall foul of the rules as well.’
IAG declined to say how many of its investors are based in the UK. Its biggest shareholder is Qatar Airways, with 21.5 per cent.
A spokesman said: ‘UK shareholders won’t be subject to the share restrictions in the announcement unless we notify them otherwise. However, we have no plans to do this.’