By ANTHONY AWUNOR, Lagos
Fresh facts have emerged on possible return to life of Arik Air which was taken over in February 8th this year by the government which handed over the embattled airline to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to manage due to the airline’s huge debt portfolio.
Barely four months into the takeover, there are indications that shareholders of Arik Air may have started discussions with a major investor to partner with the airline, offset the debts it owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and other creditors.
LEADERSHIP gathered that, although the airline shareholders have held series of meetings with other investors but has reached firm commitment with a particular Middle East-based conglomerate, which has its headquarters in Dubai with interest to do business in Africa.
Industry source hinted that the company had voted funds to investment in airline business, power and agriculture and it was attracted to Arik Air, which would serve as platform to invest in air transport in the continent which has been projected as new bastion of hope for economic development in the world.
According to the source, Arik Air and the company started negotiation last week in London and have reached some commitments and a team has been selected by each company to continue with the negotiations, which continues this month.
The plank of discussion is on the shareholding and the depth of the debts, which creditors must back with evidence, and also operational conditions.
The negotiation was confirmed by the Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide in a telephone interview at the weekend.
Arumemi-Ikhide who was on a medical trip to London, said the investor has started negotiation with the shareholders of the company and so far both parties have had fruitful discussions as negotiation continues.
There are also indications that concerned government officials are aware of the meeting between Arik and the investor.
Sources also disclosed that the company is willing to build maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria if government gives it the needed support because it has voted funds to invest in Africa.
“We have been having discussions with investors and 10 days ago we had discussion with a US-based company, but we are having serious discussion now with this organisation, which is based in the Middle East because they have a package to invest in Africa and take advantage of the growing economy in the region. We have reached agreement on what I will call the sub-heads but the details will come out in our next discussion, but so far the discussion has been fruitful.