Israir (6H, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) is “conducting strenuous negotiations” with the owners of Smartwings (Czechia) (QS, Prague Václav Havel) over a planned takeover of the Czech carrier, it said in a filing to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The Israeli carrier said last November that it had presented more details of its offer to buy Smartwings to the Czech airline’s shareholders, an acquisition that would give it a European air operator’s certificate (AOC) and could be valued at EUR44 million euros (USD48.4 million).

In a new update on the talks, Israir said that “the transaction procedure has been updated from a tender procedure to a quasi-tender procedure” in which it “is conducting negotiations with the shareholders of Smartwings regarding the terms of the transaction in order to reach full agreement with all Smartwings shareholders regarding the terms of the deal.”

The filing reminded that “51% of the issued and paid-up capital of Smartwings is held by companies owned by Jiří Šimáně and Roman Vik, who constitute controlling interest, while 49% of the issued and paid-up capital of Smartwings is held by companies that are owned, in a final chain, by China's Ministry of Economy.”

It added: “It should be noted that the parties are conducting strenuous negotiations with the aim of reaching agreements regarding the terms of the deal, in a way that will allow the parties to sign a binding memorandum of understanding, which, as soon as it is signed, then the parties will work towards signing a binding agreement.”

Šimáne and Vik hold a 50.08% stake in Smartwings and Czech flag carrier CSA Czech Airlines parent Smartwings Group, while China’s CITIC Group owns 49.92%. There have been tensions between the Czech and Chinese partners since the minority shareholder declined to contribute to easing the troubles of CSA in 2021.