The minority shareholder in the Takatso Consortium is to challenge its recommended sidelining in the sale of South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) before South Africa's Competition Tribunal.

"Our main challenge will be that we have not, as reported, agreed to sell our shares," confirmed Gidon Novick, who represents Takasto minority shareholders Global Aviation Operations and management consultancy Syranix, which also own the Lift Airlines (LIFT) brand that competes with SAA domestically.

The Competition Commission, which advises on antitrust matters, sees a conflict of interest between Global/Syranix's ownership of LIFT and its planned co-ownership of SAA. It has made the minority shareholders' divestment from Takatso a condition for approving the semi-privatisation deal that would see Takatso take a 51% share, with the government retaining 49%. Takatso's majority shareholder is Harith General Partners, an asset management firm that owns Johannesburg Lanseria airport near Johannesburg. Novick says Global/Syranix have also reached out to Harith to find a solution.

The Competition Commission has alleged that all parties to the transaction have agreed that Global/Syranix would divest to make the deal happen. But this was news to Novik, who said Global/Syranix had not agreed to divest from Takatso/SAA and remained open to finding a way "to share the deep local skills and experience we have to build a sustainable regional and international airline and an iconic South African brand".

According to its website, the case is currently being filed before the Competition Tribunal. No date for the hearing has been announced yet.