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BA Considers Bid for Rival bmi: Times of London

British Airways is contemplating a 1 billion pound (US$2 billion) bid for smaller rival bmi, London newspaper the Times reported on Wednesday.

The Daily Telegraph also said BA was mulling a bid, but noted any move would face competition hurdles and a possible veto from Lufthansa, which owns 30% of bmi.

A BA spokeswoman said the airline never commented on what she called "rumor and speculation."

Bmi was not immediately available for comment.

The airline is 50% owned by Chairman Michael Bishop. The remainder is held by Scandinavia's SAS.

The Times said Bishop was understood to have received a number of approaches from carriers looking to buy his stake. He has so far resisted but potential bidders were quoted as telling the newspaper they believed he would sell this year.

BA would consider a bid if and when Bishop sells, according to the Times. The newspaper added, however, that Germany's Lufthansa would have the first say in any bmi sale.

The Telegraph said senior BA sources were known to covet bmi, which holds 12% of the take-off and landing slots at London's Heathrow airport.

Last week, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic said it remained interested in buying bmi, but a bmi spokeswoman reiterated that the carrier was not interested. Virgin Atlantic -- 51% owned by Branson and 49% by Singapore Airlines -- plans to expand vigorously after European ministers agreed a deal this month allowing EU airlines to fly from any city in Europe to any U.S. city, and vice versa.