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14. nov 2001 - Representatives of the US investment bank Merrill Lynch (ML) and the Director of the Fed. Finance Administration and head of the "Airlift" task force, Peter Siegenthaler, met today to discuss various concept proposals to solve the problems of the Swiss airline industry. Following a detailed exchange of views the "Phoenix Plus" concept being pursued by private and public investors was also recognised by ML as being the right path to follow. The concept envisages the creation of a new Swiss airline on the basis of Crossair strengthened with up to 26 long and medium haul aircraft.
In a second section, ML outlined further possible solutions for the restructuring of inherited burdens of the Swissair Group, which cannot be liquidated or cannot be liquidated entirely through administration. Such a conversion of debt would, in the opinion of ML, provide a valuable contribution to the long-term success of the new airline. The prerequisite for such a restructuring of debt, along with a clarification of certain legal questions, would also be a long-term guarantee of the federal government in addition to the commitments which have already been received. Peter Siegenthaler made it clear that further financial engagement on the part of the Confederation has been ruled out. Nevertheless it was agreed that certain elements of ML's proposals and any resulting synergies would be assessed in a later meeting. This would take place on the clear basis of the "Phoenix plus" concept and in agreement with the company and the administrator.
"Globus" not under consideration as an alternative
ML clarified that the investment bank is in no way connected with the alternative "Globus" project which has been presented in the last few days, and that its promoters have no mandate from ML. "Globus" envisages a rehabilitation of Swissair and (in addition to the commitments already made) a restructuring of debt to be guaranteed by the Confederation. As a result, the project foresees a fundamentally different basis to the "Phoenix Plus" solution agreed upon by the investors and the Confederation for a new airline, which is expressly not based on the Swissair structure. Not least because the alternative concept requires a significantly greater financial engagement on the part of the Confederation as well as massive delays, "Globus" as an alternative to the "Phoenix Plus" concept agreed by investors from the private and public sector is unreservedly not under consideration.
14 November 2001
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