The largest shareholder in Wizz Air (W6, Budapest), Indigo Partners, has sold around GBP400 million pounds (USD554.7 million) worth of ordinary shares in the low-cost carrier - about half of its stake - to institutional investors, the airline has confirmed in a stock exchange filing.

The transaction of 7,692,308 ordinary shares has taken take the private equity firm’s shareholding in Wizz Air from 15 million shares, or a 17.5% stake, to just over 7.3 million shares, about 8.5%.

The sale began with an accelerated book-building offer at GBP52 (USD72.16) per share, a process that was completed on March 18. On March 15, the share price closed at GBP55.05 (USD76.40).

Although cash-rich Wizz Air has fared better than many other airlines during the coronavirus pandemic, with deliveries of new A320-200N, A321-200NX, and A321-200NX(XLR) aircraft ongoing, it carried 87% fewer passengers in February 2021 year-on-year.

The latest stake sale continued a process begun in early February 2020, when Indigo Partners carried out a long-held plan to reduce its stake in the LCC by selling about 12.5 million shares. This process was designed to help the carrier’s compliance with European Union shareholder rules following the UK’s exit from the EU. Besides the remaining shareholding, it also has convertible shares and convertible notes in Wizz Air.

Wizz Air responded to ch-aviation’s request for comment by saying: “Indigo Partners is an independent shareholder like any other in our share register and there hasn’t been any pre-alignment between Wizz Air and Indigo for any such decisions they make. Indigo Partners sell and buy regularly, but still hold 38% of the company on fully diluted basis, which shows their continued commitment.”