Lufthansa's bmi takeover drama continues

Although the takeover of British carrier bmi (formerly known as British Midland Airways) by German airline Lufthansa was approved on Thursday by European Union antitrust authorities, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung yesterday reported that Lufthansa is backing out of the deal, apparently after taking a closer look at bmi's rather precarious financial situation and deciding that the price would be too high.

bmi, which lost $151m in 2008, was 30% (minus one share) owned by Lufthansa, 20% by Scandinavian Airlines, and 50% (plus one share) by former British Midland chairman Sir Michael Bishop. Last October, Lufthansa announced that it would be acquiring Bishop's stake in bmi, meaning that the German carrier would be effectively controlling bmi.

bmi is one of the latest of Lufthansa's potential acquisitions; it already wholly owns Italian carrier Air Dolomiti, German low-cost carrier Germanwings, Swiss International Air Lines, Lufthansa Italia, and regional carriers Eurowings and Lufthansa CityLine, among others (it will wholly control Austrian Airlines pending approval by the EU later this year). It also owns significant stakes in bmi, Luxembourg's national airline Luxair, Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines, and jetBlue.