Emirates had bought a minority stake in SriLankan Airlines in 1998 for about $70 million.
Emirates had bought a minority stake in SriLankan Airlines in 1998 for about $70 million.

Emirates near split with partner

Emirates Airline is drawing closer to selling its 43.6 per cent stake in SriLankan Airlines to the Sri Lankan government. The Dubai carrier's only foreign airline investment, undertaken in the late 1990s, delivered mixed results. Emirates has sought a buyer for its stake since ending its management contract with the Colombo-based carrier in 2008.

Attention had focused on the Sri Lankan government buying back the stake, and the two sides in February acknowledged that discussions were taking place. On Friday, the chairman of the airline, Nishanta Wickremesinghe, said in Colombo that the negotiations were progressing well. "The deal is close to being finalised," he said. "It is now between the government and Emirates." The Dubai airline could not be reached for comment yesterday. Last month, at a press conference announcing Emirates's US$964 million (Dh3.54 billion)profit for the financial year ending on March 31, executives suggested the company would have particular requirements for selling the SriLankan stake.

"We are willing to sell at the right price," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chief executive and chairman of Emirates. Emirates experienced "a very difficult relationship" with the Sri Lankan government, Keith McMullan, the managing director of Aviation Economics, a consultancy based in London, said earlier this year. Many of the appointments at SriLankan were politically motivated, he said.

The breaking point came in December 2007 when Peter Hill, the chief executive installed by Emirates, refused to offload 35 passengers at the last minute to allow the president and his entourage to fly back to Sri Lanka from England, where the president had attended his son's graduation from Britannia Royal Naval College. Mr Hill's work permit was rescinded and, shortly after, Emirates announced it would not seek to renew its management contract with SriLankan.

Emirates bought the minority stake in 1998 for a reported $70m and in 2008 said it believed its share had grown in value to $150m. However, the economic downturn has battered airlines worldwide, and SriLankan recorded a loss of 10bn rupees (Dh776.2m) in the 12 months ending on March 31 last year. It attributed the loss to falling tourist numbers and the global economic downturn. More recently, Sri Lankan officials cited a much lower figure as the price the government was willing to pay for Emirates' stake.

"$55 million is the price we have indicated," PB Jayasundera, the finance ministry secretary, told Reuters. "We are looking for a strategic partner or somebody from the government to take [the stake] and maintain the commercial character of SriLankan." Emirates has not ventured back into foreign airline investments since its experience with SriLankan, although last November it agreed to help Senegal Airlines with its launch, including commercial support, technical expertise, training and aviation-related goods and services.

Since the SriLankan venture, Emirates has focused exclusively on its own growth at its hub at Dubai International Airport, where it has doubled in size every three to four years throughout its 25-year history. * with agencies igale@thenational.ae

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Company Profile

Company: Astra Tech
Started: March 2022
Based: Dubai
Founder: Abdallah Abu Sheikh
Industry: technology investment and development
Funding size: $500m


Third Test, Day 1

New Zealand 229-7 (90 ov)

New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat

Liverpool’s fixtures until end of 2019

Saturday, November 30, Brighton (h)

Wednesday, December 4, Everton (h)

Saturday, December 7, Bournemouth (a)

Tuesday, December 10, Salzburg (a) CL

Saturday, December 14, Watford (h)

Tuesday, December 17, Aston Villa (a) League Cup

Wednesday, December 18, Club World Cup in Qatar

Saturday, December 21, Club World Cup in Qatar

Thursday, December 26, Leicester (a)

Sunday, December 29, Wolves (h)


Lahore Qalandars 186 for 4 in 19.4 overs
(Sohail 100,Phil Salt 37 not out, Bilal Irshad 30, Josh Poysden 2-26)
bt Yorkshire Vikings 184 for 5 in 20 overs
(Jonathan Tattersall 36, Harry Brook 37, Gary Ballance 33, Adam Lyth 32, Shaheen Afridi 2-36).

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5