Qatar Airways pays $662M for 10 percent of Cathay Pacific

Two for the price of one fares for a limited time

Cathay Pacific Airways' share price dipped by almost 5% this morning (Hong Kong local time) following Qatar Airways' move to acquire a 9.6% stake in the East Asian carrier.

Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific remains the largest shareholder in Cathay with a 45 per cent stake and Air China controls 29.99 per cent, while the remaining shares not owned by Qatar Airways are publicly traded.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Air's chief executive officer, said the tieup advances his investment strategy by securing a stake in "one of the strongest airlines in the world", while Cathay counterpart Rupert Hogg added that he's looking forward to a "continued constructive relationship" with the Gulf operator.

The transaction will be completed later on Monday, Qatar Airways said. At the same time the move reasserts the company's global ambitions 4 1/2 months after American Airlines rejected an investment bid.

Cathay Pacific has been suffering from intense competition and economic slowdown in China, both of which have been attributed to the carrier's HK$2.05 billion loss in the first half of the year, a dramatic decline when compared to the same time last year, which saw the carrier profit HK$353 million.

The stock closed 1.5% lower, while the broader market was flat.

Complicating matters is the stake already held by Air China, long regarded by investors as a possible purchaser for the whole of Cathay.

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Completion of the transaction is expected to take place later today.

Qatar Airways Cargo, the world's third largest global cargo carrier, serves more than 60 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide via its Doha hub and also delivers freight to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations globally.

Cathay flew between Hong Kong and Qatar Airway's Doha hub as part of a codeshare arrangement between 2014 and 2016, when the route was axed "for commercial reasons".

Investment holding company Kingboard said it would recognise a gain of HK$800 million on the sale of its entire Cathay stake.

Both companies are members of the Oneworld alliance, as are British Airways, Latam and American, though that didn't stop the USA carrier's CEO Doug Parker from opposing the planned Qatari investment in his group.

In other Qatar Airways-related news, The Times of India reported that a Qatar Airways Doha-Bali flight was diverted to Chennai after an "intoxicated" Iranian woman used her sleeping husband's thumb to open his mobile phone - and discovered messages that she believed showed he was cheating on her.

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