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Skymark cleared for turnaround with ANA support

From left to right, Skymark Chairman Takashi Ide, Integral Representative Director Nobuo Sayama, ANA Holdings Director Toyoyuki Nagamine and Masahiko Motono, director at DBJ Corporate Mezzanine Partners.

TOKYO -- A turnaround plan for Skymark Airlines backed by ANA Holdings won the approval of a wide majority of the bankrupt Japanese carrier's creditors Wednesday, beating a rival proposal that would have seen Delta Air Lines become an investor.

     The vote, held at Tokyo District Court some six months after Skymark filed for court protection from creditors, clears the way for the airline to make a new start. Tokyo-based ANA, the parent company of All Nippon Airways, will provide capital and business support.

Rival proposals

Creditors chose between two proposals. The ANA-sponsored plan put forward by Skymark carried the day, garnering 60.25% of total voting rights as measured by liabilities and nearly 80% of the votes of the 174 creditors present. A majority on both counts was needed for approval, and the court promptly certified the results.

     The Delta-sponsored plan, advanced by U.S. leasing company Intrepid Aviation, Skymark's biggest creditor, received 38.13% support on a rights basis and slightly more than 20% of the votes.

     ANA intends to help Skymark "improve quality on the safety front," ANA Director Toyoyuki Nagamine told reporters. All Nippon Airways and Skymark will form a codeshare arrangement, helping the latter boost revenue by filling seats. ANA also will let Skymark use its booking system. Skymark Chairman Takashi Ide said his company aims to become profitable again in the fiscal year ending March 2016.

     The Delta-backed plan had been seen as the front-runner, given Intrepid's roughly 38% creditor stake. But all of Skymark's other big creditors rallied around the company proposal. Among them were aerospace groups Airbus and Rolls-Royce, with shares of roughly 29% and 16%, respectively.

     People familiar with the lead-up to the vote say Airbus initially had frowned upon the ANA-sponsored plan but was persuaded to back it by a promise of future aircraft orders. Nagamine acknowledged that aircraft purchases were a "long-term" proposition. Airbus played a leading role among creditors, and its change of heart appears to have persuaded Rolls-Royce and U.S. company CIT to go along.

Next move

In the coming weeks, the value of Skymark's outstanding stock will be wiped out, and the airline will raise 18 billion yen ($143 million) in fresh capital from Tokyo-based private equity firm Integral, ANA and other investors. The proceeds will go toward repaying creditors, starting as early as October.

     Having remained independent from Japan's two big airlines for roughly two decades, Skymark now turns to ANA for investment. Its 36 daily landing slots at the Tokyo area's Haneda Airport, a valuable commodity for any carrier, would raise the ANA group's share from roughly 50% to around 60%.

(Nikkei)

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