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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 13:57 GMT
No Qantas interference - Howard
John Howard, Australian Prime Minister
John Howard is resisting calls for government intervention
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said he will not step in to block the planned $8.8bn private equity takeover of national airline Qantas.

The Australian government is under pressure to intervene amid concerns the firm is set to fall into foreign hands.

Mr Howard said ministers would ensure the deal abided by current laws on foreign ownership but that it would not impose any further conditions.

US firm Texas Pacific and Canada's Onex are among the firms set to buy Qantas.

Australian firm Macquarie is also part of the consortium, whose offer for the airline has been accepted.

'Wrong path'

The proposed deal has prompted a political storm with some believing that the buy-out will inevitably result in job losses.

In a television interview, Mr Howard said the state could not dictate who bought and sold shares in private companies.

"We cannot have governments deciding which shares can be sold and which can't and, in the end, that is what some people are advocating," he said.

"Once you go down that path, then I think you begin to alter in a quite major way that nature of the economy that we operate in."

Under current laws, Australian firms must retain 51% of the shares of the airline. The proposed takeover is being scrutinised by the Foreign Investment Board.

Qantas bidders ask for a review
05 Feb 07 |  Business
Qantas accepts Macquarie takeover
14 Dec 06 |  Business
Qantas suitors face bid hurdles
23 Nov 06 |  Business

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