A deal that will see the South African government give up majority shareholding in South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) is “now at an advanced stage”, according to the Takatso Consortium, the preferred strategic equity partner.

The consortium has substantially completed its due diligence of SAA and “no material issues were identified”, Takatso's chief executive officer, Gidon Novick, said in a statement to ch-aviation.

He denied as “nonsense”, social media rumours that Global Aviation Operations (GE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) was pulling out of the consortium.

“We’re hoping to finalise the SAA deal soon. Global are key partners in the Takastso Consortium and the SAA transaction is now at an advanced stage.”

The consortium is a joint venture between asset management firm Harith General Partners, the majority shareholders of the SAA transaction, and ACMI specialist Global Aviation, minority shareholders and strategic partners to the venture. Global also owns the Lift Airlines (GE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) brand.

Novick said the consortium is moving ahead with concluding a share purchase agreement for 51% of SAA with the shareholder representative, Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). “The agreement will be subject to various approvals and pre-conditions which are likely to take some time,” he said.

SAA will resume commercial passenger operations on September 23 on one domestic and five regional routes after having been in administration for more than a year. It was rescued from bankruptcy through a taxpayer-funded ZAR10.5 billion rand (USD683 million) bailout.