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Qatar Airways set to start buying shares in American Airlines

By Conor Humphries | DUBLIN

Qatar Airways is to press on with plans to build a stake of up to 4.75 percent in American Airlines (AAL.O) in the near future, despite the “categorical” opposition of the U.S. company’s management, Qatar Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on Thursday.

The state-owned carrier notified American Airlines last month that it was interested in buying up to 10 percent of its shares but would not exceed 4.75 percent without the approval of American’s board.

“We will be able to start buying shares in the open market soon, depending of course on what is the share value,” al Baker told reporters in Dublin, where he was launching a new Qatar Airways route.

The share purchases will start as soon as Qatar receives regulatory approval, he said.

However, American said in a regulatory filing dated June 22 that company rules prohibit anyone “from acquiring 4.75 percent or more” of the company’s shares in issue without prior board approval.

Shares in American were up 0.5 percent at $51.53 at 1342 GMT on Thursday, valuing the company at over $25 billion.

The move by Qatar Airways would expand its investments to North America at a time when Qatar is embroiled in the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years and is locked in an airspace rights row with three other Gulf states.

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