FRANKFURT, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Former F1 driver Niki Lauda is interested in buying back insolvent Air Berlin’s Niki, the Austrian airline he once owned, joining a slew of companies and investors vying to grab parts of the German carrier.
Lauda expressed his interest in Niki in a letter to Air Berlin’s insolvency administrator but he has yet to look into Niki’s books, he told Austrian newspaper Kronen-Zeitung.
“Now let’s see what happens, whether I’ll be invited to the negotiations at all,” he was quoted as saying.
Air Berlin filed for insolvency after major shareholder Etihad pulled the plug on further funding. It is still flying thanks to a 150 million euro ($177 million) loan from the German government.
Lufthansa, Thomas Cook’s Condor, easyJet and Ryanair are among airlines interested in the carrier’s business or parts of it, sources familiar with the negotiations have said. German aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl is also working on a bid.
Lauda set up Niki in 2003 after buying the Austrian arm of bankrupt German charter carrier Aero Lloyd. Air Berlin acquired a stake shortly after and gained full control over the years.
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Susan Thomas