HONG KONG – Qatar Airways bought on Monday a 9.61 percent stake in Cathay Pacific, becoming the third-largest shareholder in the company after Swire Pacific and Air China, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said in a statement.
Qatar’s national airline acquired the shares from the investment holding company Kingboard Chemical Holdings, headquartered in Hong Kong, for HK$5.16 billion ($662 million), Kingboard said in a statement.
“Qatar Airways is one of the world’s premier airlines (...) and we look forward to a continued constructive relationship,” Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg said in a statement.
Swire Pacific and Air China hold a 45 percent and 29.99 percent stake respectively in Asia’s biggest international airline.
The acquisition comes after the Hong Kong airline reported its first loss in eight years, amounting to $385 million in 2016.
The loss of revenue led to a corporate restructuring of Cathay Pacific, including the layoff of 600 employees in May.
Increasing competition with low-cost airlines and strong presence of Middle Eastern operators has affected the expansion of the company, which runs Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon airlines, in Asia.
Cathay employs more than 30,000 people, more than half of them in Hong Kong.
The acquisition grants an advantage to Qatar Airways over its Middle Eastern competitors in the Asian Market, which is one of the fastest growing in the world.
Qatar Airways, with a fleet of 180 passenger planes flying to 150 destinations, also owns stakes in other airlines such as British Airways, LATAM and Meridiana.