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German businessman likely to invest in airBaltic


But decision may cost Latvia’s transport minister his job
A businessman from Germany looks likely to be a major new investor in the Latvian national airline airBaltic, after the government in Riga approved the idea following four hours of debate.
Ralf Dieter Montag-Girmes, who has a background as an auditor for Russian companies and interests, was recommended as an investor by the consultancy company Prudentia.
He would invest €52 million into the airline in return for a 20% stake, while the government would invest €80 million. This is necessary for airBaltic to follow through on a deal to buy ten new CSeries 300 aircraft from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, which it signed in December 2012 with the option for ten more.
Martin Gauss, the airline’s chief executive, said he was delighted by the government’s decision.
However, the agreement with Montag-Girmes may cost Latvia’s transport minister, Anrijs Matiss, his job. Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma is now demanding that Matiss step down, as according to her he did a poor job of supervising developments at the airline. Matiss himself has said that the German investor is not the best option in terms of national security.
Asked to comment about the origins of the businessman’s investment, Matiss said that once it is transferred via Latvian banks, the country’s Financial and Capital Market Commission would be able to get a full picture of the transaction.


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