Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila Ninoy Aquino International) has tempered media reports that its controlling shareholders are looking to sell a 20-25% stake in the airline to a foreign carrier. It says that while it is always open to receiving offers from potential strategic partners, there is nothing to disclose at this point.

On February 28 a report in the Philippine Star newspaper, citing industry sources, said the airline had set up a high-level management committee to review offers. The available stake, described as "minority but significant," would allow the Tan family's investment vehicle, LT Group, to retain majority ownership and control.

Later on the same day, in response to an inquiry, the publicly-listed PAL Holdings, the parent entity of Philippine Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary PAL Express (2P, Manila Ninoy Aquino International), told the Philippine Stock Exchange that while the "sentiment" was in favour of a strategic investor, no work on any divestment had started and there was nothing to report.

"The company has always been open or receptive to welcoming strategic partners that will contribute positively to the ongoing effort of PAL to strengthen and position itself for growth in the coming years," the filing read. "Alliances or partnerships of similar nature are most often beneficial to the company."

The Tan family, headed by Lucio Tan, has a 90% stake in PAL Holdings. The other major investor is ANA - All Nippon Airways (NH, Tokyo Haneda) with a 4.75% stake. The newspaper claimed that the family believes now is a good time to sell, with the airline performing strongly and making money. Any investor, particularly a well-regarded foreign operator, would reportedly open up expansion opportunities and help differentiate it from local competitors such as Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila Ninoy Aquino International).

Philippine Airlines flies to 73 destinations in 21 countries. Its 78-strong fleet includes fifteen A320-200s (twelve are wet-leased), twenty-two A321-200s (four wet-leased), six A321-200Ns, two A321-200NX, eleven A330-300s, two A350-900s, nine B777-300ERs, and eleven DHC-8-Q400s. It also has thirteen A321-200Ns and nine A350-1000s on order.