The Government of the Netherlands has bought a 12.68% stake in Air France-KLM to "protect the Dutch public interest", Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra and Minister of Infrastructure Cora van Nieuwenhuizen have said in a letter to the country's parliament.

The stake cost the Dutch government EUR680 million euros (USD775 million), according to Bloomberg.

"The purpose of this purchase is to ensure that the Dutch public interest is better protected and more widely taken into account in the decision-making of the Air France-KLM holding company. At the same time, the cabinet shows herewith its commitment to the entire company," the ministers wrote.

The Dutch government intends to "ultimately have an almost equivalent interest as the French state", which currently controls a 14.3% stake in the holding.

The two ministers underlined in their letter that the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) intercontinental network from Amsterdam Schiphol is crucial to the Dutch economy. A 2015 research estimated the overall impact of the megahub at EUR9 billion euros (USD10.25 billion) in added value per year.

The Dutch side has long been dissatisfied with the perceived imbalance between the interests of Air France (AF, Paris CDG) and KLM within the group. In addition, KLM has long been significantly more profitable than its loss-making French counterpart.

"In recent years, we have seen that the Dutch side was, on several occasions, insufficiently included in important group decisions which also affect KLM and its network. For example, the cabinet was not consulted about the strategic cooperation with Delta Air Lines and China Eastern Airlines. Nor were the Dutch state or KLM consulted about AccorHotels' possible acquisition of a stake in Air France-KLM from the French State in the spring of 2018," the ministers wrote.

Hoekstra and van Nieuwenhuizen underlined, however, that in general, the cooperation with the French side was going well and that improvements to the holding's governance structure had been made recently.

The acquisition will allow the Dutch government to nominate a board member of the holding.

While the Dutch government did not previously own a shareholding in Air France-KLM, it does own a 5.92% stake in KLM itself. The holding company controls, directly and indirectly, the remaining shares in the Dutch airline.

Other major shareholders in Air France-KLM include Delta Air Lines and China Eastern Airlines, each of which holds an 8.8% stake.