SATS in talks to buy JAL Int’l unit

SHARES in SATS, formerly Singapore Airport Terminal Services, closed six cents higher yesterday at $2.85 after the ground handler confirmed reports that it is in talks to acquire the inflight meal unit of Japan Airlines International Co Ltd (JALI).

Newswire reports said that JALI was finalising the sale of the unit, TFK Corporation, to SATS. TFK is Japan’s top provider of inflight meals, serving over 30 domestic and foreign airlines.

In response, SATS said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange: ‘SATS, through one of its subsidiaries, is currently in advanced discussions with Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation/JALI in connection with the acquisition of JALI’s stake in TFK.’

‘However, no definitive agreement has yet been reached and the transaction may require regulatory, legal and other relevant approvals and conditions,’ SATS added.

The potential acquisition is viewed as a move which will enable SATS to enter the Japanese market.

SATS said that it would make an announcement should its subsidiary enter into any definitive agreement.

Citing Japanese media, a Dow Jones report said that the negotiations were in the final stages and that the selling price could top 10 billion yen (S$157 million).

The report said that the search for a buyer commenced back in July, with those in the running including Deutsche Lufthansa aviation group and restaurant operator Royal Holdings Co.

Since then, the shortlisted candidates have been reduced to SATS and TFK’s founding family, though ‘JAL and the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan had given priority rights to negotiate to SATS as of Wednesday’, Dow Jones said.

Aside from its airport services, SATS also has a food business which comprises airline catering, food distribution and logistics, industrial catering as well as chilled and frozen food manufacturing.

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