France wants Dutch gov't to sell its KLM shares: report

KLM and Air France planes at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris
KLM and Air France planes at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Parishzparisien@gmail.comDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The Netherlands and France are in discussions regarding the Dutch government selling its shares in Dutch airline KLM, the French ambassador in The Hague confirmed to BNR and Financieele Dagblad.

The Netherlands owns 6 percent shares in KLM and 14 percent shares in Air France-KLM. That is more than the French government's shares, making the situation "out of balance", French ambassador Luis Vassy said to the news agencies. 

According to BNR political reporter Sophie van Leeuwan, Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance has two demands in the negotiations - more Dutch people on the Air France-KLM board, and state guarantee that Schiphol can retain its function as a hub. According to Hoekstra, "the Netherlands is committed to formalizing that much stronger Dutch position".

The Dutch Minister's demands are difficult to meet. Retaining Schiphol's function as a global hub is complicated if the Amsterdam airport can't grow further, but the airport in Paris can. And the members of the board are chosen by shareholders. 

Hoekstra is not in a hurry to finalize these negotiations, because he has "materially from day one" noticed a big difference in the level of information given to the Netherlands and the Dutch involvement in decision making. "That is completely different than in the past," he said according to BNR.

He may also be stalling for time, because from next year the Dutch state will have double voting rights as a shareholder, according to the broadcaster.