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Airline SAS extends deadline for equity fundraising

(Reuters) -Scandinavian airline SAS, battling to emerge from bankruptcy protection, said on Monday it was extending the deadline for final bids for its equity fundraising by a week to Sept. 25 at the request of bidders.

The Sweden-listed company reiterated that it aims to complete court approval of its U.S. court-supervised restructuring by the end of the year, followed by any regulatory and other approvals in 2024.

SAS said in May the U.S. court had approved a revised plan to raise equity. It did not say how much it hoped to raise, adding this would depend on the bidding process.

Denmark has said it is willing to increase its stake in SAS to around 30% from around 22%, if others investors were to take a majority stake.

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Reuters reported in May that U.S. asset manager Apollo Global Management Inc planned to apply for approval from Swedish and Danish regulators to take a majority stake in SAS as part its rescue plan.

In June the airline extended the timeline for raising funds by another four weeks.

"I'm a bit surprised because the timeline has been known for quite some time so the fact that bidders are not ready for that second deadline kind of amazes me," Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen said.

Pedersen also said that since one or more of the bidders had asked for the extension according to SAS, it can be seen as a positive as it shows they feel they need more time to come up with the correct price. However, he also cautioned against being overoptimistic as the price points remain unknown.

Earlier this month, SAS, which has been under bankruptcy protection since July 2022, posted its first quarterly pretax profit since late 2019.

The airline has struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, while labour disputes, travel disruption and high costs have hampered efforts to swiftly complete its restructuring.

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar, Gokul Pisharody in Bengaluru and Marie Mannes in Stockholm; Editing by David Evans, Mark Potter and Susan Fenton)