* Aeroflot approves up to 1.7 bln new share issue
* Deal to involve state, private investors – sources
* SPO expected in October, VTB among arrangers – sources
MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Russia’s top carrier Aeroflot plans to open up its upcoming secondary share offering (SPO), part of state support for the country’s biggest airline, to private investors, three sources close to the deal told Reuters on Monday.
Aeroflot slumped to a 36 billion rouble ($481 million) loss in the second quarter after flights nearly ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state has approved an issue of up to 1.7 billion new shares.
The new share issue is more than twice the number of current shares outstanding and will represent 60% of Aeroflot’s enlarged capital. The price is yet to be set by the company.
The state plans to buy part of the new share issue as it aims to retain no less than its existing 51.2% stake in Aeroflot, with Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and VTB also taking part, sources have told Reuters.
Aeroflot now wants to open up the deal to private investors, too, the sources said, as the state wants to raise as much cash for its top carrier as possible.
State lender VTB is among banks arranging the deal, they said. The offering is expected as soon as in October after all paperwork is finished, two of the sources added.
It was not immediately clear how much Aeroflot may raise in total. The previous plan was put by the sources at 80 billion roubles ($1 billion).
Aeroflot declined to comment. VTB and RDIF did not reply to Reuters requests for a comment.
$1 = 74.8679 roubles Reporting by Tatiana Voronova, Olga Popova and Gleb Stolyarov Writing by Katya Golubkova, Editing by Susan Fenton