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Virgin Australia's biggest shareholder Air NZ says it may sell stake

The Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. logo is displayed on the tail of an Airbus SAS A330 aircraft at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015.
Brendon Thorne | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. logo is displayed on the tail of an Airbus SAS A330 aircraft at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015.

Air New Zealand, the biggest shareholder in Australia's No.2 carrier Virgin Australia said on Wednesday it is considering selling its 25.9 percent holding.

Air New Zealand said it has hired investment banks First NZ Capital and Credit Suisse to advise on its options, including a possible sale of all or part of its stake. It added that its CEO Christopher Luxon, will resign from Virgin Australia's board, effective immediately.

"Air New Zealand does not want a large minority equity position in Virgin Australia as it focuses on its own growth opportunities," it said in a statement.

A Virgin Australia spokeswoman said the company will respond soon in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The announcement comes nine days after Virgin Australia said it was tapping its four biggest shareholders Air New Zealand, Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Singapore Airlines and Abu Dhabi government-owned Etihad Airways for a A$425 million cash facility.

At the time, Air NZ said it supported the move.

Sydney-listed Virgin Australia's shares were in a trading halt on Wednesday. Air New Zealand's stake in Virgin Australia is worth A$347 million based on the shares' last traded price.

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