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San Miguel eyes Philippine Airlines buyout

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel said Thursday it hopes to take full control of the country's flag carrier within two months by buying out its local partner.

MANILA: Philippine conglomerate San Miguel said Thursday it hopes to take full control of the country's flag carrier within two months by buying out its local partner. San Miguel in 2012 bought a 49 per cent stake in Philippine Airlines (PAL) US$500 million from LT Group, a holding firm controlled by tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan.

In a statement to the stock exchange San Miguel confirmed local news reports that its president Ramon Ang and PAL were "hopeful" it could buy out the rest of the carrier's shares by the end of September. PAL issued an identical statement to the exchange. Ang and the LT Group had earlier disclosed they were in talks over a possible buy-out of the airline, whose parent PAL Holdings suffered a net loss of US$205.15 million in the nine months to December 2013.

The airline's prospects have improved since the US Federal Aviation Administration removed the Philippines from its air safety blacklist in April, opening the door for Filipino carriers to expand services to the United States. The FAA decision came after the European Union in July last year lifted its own ban on PAL following an upgrade of safety standards. Under Ang, San Miguel, originally a Southeast Asian beer and food giant, has diversified into a wide variety of fields including infrastructure, energy and oil refining.

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