Exclusive-Apollo seeking to join airline SAS investor consortium -source

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management is seeking to join the consortium that Scandinavian airline SAS last week picked to take it through bankruptcy proceedings, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Long-struggling SAS, ravaged by the pandemic and pressured by low-cost rivals, sought bankruptcy protection last year.

SAS announced last week that Air France-KLM and U.S. investment firm Castlelake would become new major shareholders alongside the Danish state.

Apollo, which last year granted SAS a $700 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan to fund its restructuring, had been seen as a likely winner in the bidding round by the airline to raise equity as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.

Apollo could convert the loan into equity at the end of the process.

“Apollo is still an active bidder,” the source said, adding that the U.S. company was seeking to inject additional cash into SAS on top of what the winning consortium said it would invest.

It was unclear how big a stake Apollo would seek or how much it would invest.

Total investments by new shareholders, which also include Danish investment firm Lind Invest, in the reorganized SAS would amount to 12.9 billion Swedish crowns ($1.18 billion).

SAS, Castlelake, Air France-KLM and Apollo all declined to comment. The Danish finance ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

($1 = 10.9555 Swedish crowns)

(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Josie Kao)