Ansett New Zealand sold

Ending months of speculation, Ansett New Zealand announced that a consortium of New Zealand investors had bought the airline from News Corp for an undisclosed sum. The investors, brought together by merchant bank Clavell Capital, include businessmen Alan Gibbs and Trevor Farmer, the Dunedin-based Skeggs group, and current Ansett NZ chairman Ken Cowley. Australian clothing retailer R.M. Williams Holdings Ltd joined the group a short time later. Both Cowley and chief executive Kevin Doddrell will remain on the airline’s board. QANTAS had also been rumored to be a likely investor, but it did not join the group. The possibility of a codeshare or other collaborative arrangement remains, although QANTAS is currently pursuing a stake in rival Air New Zealand. Ansett New Zealand’s new owners stated that they would change the airline’s name, with an announcement expected in May. Rumors about possible new names include reviving the name of South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand (SPANZ), which brought air services to many small New Zealand towns, but folded in 1966. Ansett New Zealand currently operates eight BAe 146-300s alongside turboprop Dash 8s.

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