Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) is back in private hands after the German government disposed of its remaining stake in parent Deutsche Lufthansa AG one year before the deadline, netting a profit of EUR760 million euros (USD760 million) in the process.

In a statement, the country's Economic Stabilisation Fund (Wirtschaftsstabilisierungsfonds), commonly known as WSF, announced it had sold its remaining 9.92% share to international investors. The withdrawal of the state through the WSF followed the successful stabilisation of the airline group following the Covid pandemic, it said.

"The total proceeds of EUR1.07 billion (USD1.07 billion) generated for the WSF from the sale of its stake significantly exceed the EUR306 million (USD306.1 million) invested to acquire it," said Jutta Doenges, who is responsible for the WSF as managing director of the finance agency. With this outcome, "the participation of the WSF ends, and the company is back in private hands," she said.

Having stepped in to rescue Germany's biggest airline when Covid restrictions grounded air travel, the WSF in June 2020 acquired about 20% in Deutsche Lufthansa AG in exchange for European Commission-approved state aid of EUR6 billion (USD5.9 billion). Of this, the airline received EUR5.7 billion (USD5.6 billion) in grants, while EUR 0.3 billion (USD0.2 billion) was injected through the acquisition of shares. It was agreed at the time that the holding would be sold by October 2023 at the latest.

The Federal Government's aid package successfully helped the company through the crisis, and Lufthansa was able to fully repay the loans and deposits in full ahead of schedule in November 2021, the WSF said.

After a partial sale of its shares and subsequent participation in a capital increase in 2021, the WSF's stake was reduced to 14.09%. On July 28, 2022, it announced it had further reduced its shareholding to 9.92%. "The WSF has now completely sold its last remaining shareholding to international investors as part of a block placement," it confirmed.

The identity of the investors was not disclosed, but German billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne increased his stake in Lufthansa to 17.5%, according to a statement by Kuehne Holding. He had recently indicated that he was keen to increase his 15.01% stake, which already made him the single largest shareholder in the airline group.

Commenting on the re-privatisation of the airline, Carsten Spohr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, thanked the German government and taxpayers for their support. "The stabilisation of Lufthansa was successful and is also paying off financially for the German government and thus for the taxpayer," he said.