STOCKHOLM (Dow Jones)--Icelandic investment group FL Group HF (FL.IC) Friday said it plans to list its Icelandair airline and sell two other units, generating new proceeds for future acquisitions.
The company said it has applied for the listing with the Iceland stock exchange and started the necessary preparations to complete the public offering during the first half of this year.
The board of directors of FL Group has also decided to sell Reykjavik Excursions and Icelandair Car Rental. This follows the recent sale of Iceland Travel. Other companies within the FL Travel Group segment will be brought into Icelandair Group, and FL Travel Group will be subsequently closed down, the company said.
FL Group gave no further details on the plans for listing of Icelandair, which are expected to follow in the next few months. Also unavailable Friday were profit and sales data of Icelandair which weren't broken out of FL Group accounts.
"These changes reflect FL Group's focus on investments," Chief Executive Hannes Smarason, said in a statement. "We believe that these changes place FL Group in an even stronger position to tackle current and new investments," he said.
In November, the last month reported, the airline carried 94,300 passengers, an increase of 15.3% from the year-earlier period. It operates 17 Boeing aircraft and has flights to 22 destinations in 10 countries, including six destinations to major cities in the U.S.
FL Group has become known as one of a handful of Icelandic investment groups acquiring Northern European assets. In the past months analysts have speculated the group would launch a takeover bid for the U.K.'s easyJet (EZJ.LN), in which it already holds a 16.2% stake.
But the largest shareholder in easyJet, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has repeatedly said he would demand a very high price if he was to sell his stake in the company.
FL Group Friday gave no indication of what the money from the initial public offering would be used for or how much the airline will be worth. But analysts said the cash generation is a sign FL Group will continue its acquisition spree.
"There's been a rumor that it want's to sell Icelandair for a while," said Anna Agustdottir of Landsbanki. "But the rumors have been getting more aggressive saying that Icelandair has already been sold, so it had to make the announcement now."
FL Group in September bought the recently merged Sterling Airways and Maersk Air from fellow Icelandic investment group Fons Eignarhaldsfelag.
At 1550 GMT the FL Group share traded up 1.1% at ISK24.90, outperforming a broader higher market. FL Group has been one of the best-performing stocks on the Icelandic stock exchange. During the past year the share has risen some 83%.
The CEO of FL Travel Group, Thorsteinn Oern Gudmundsson will move to the position of managing director at FL Group's new operation management division.
Blafugl, Flugflutingar and Fjarvakur will also join Icelandair Group, a development which will further strengthen the company's position as an all-round player in the international flight and cargo industry, FL Group said.
Company Web site: http://www.flgroup.is
-By Malin Rising, Dow Jones Newswires; +46 8 545 130 95; email@example.com (Louise Nordstrom contributed to this report)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires