Via Reuters Finance

FILE PHOTO: A Lufthansa jet is seen behind a barbed-wire fence at the airport as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Frankfurt, Germany, June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) shares slumped 5.7% on Monday morning after CEO Carsten Spohr said the company would seek to avoid a grounding and insolvency in a battle with the airline’s biggest shareholder over the terms of a 9-billion-euro bailout.

Lufthansa has been hard hit by what is expected to be a protracted travel slump because of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing it to seek a state rescue.

Billionaire shareholder Heinz Hermann Thiele will meet the economy minister on Monday to discuss his objections to the state-backed bailout, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

In a letter to employees, Spohr said the airline was in intense talks with the government and large shareholders which had “the clear goal of finding a satisfactory solution for our company and all participants before Thursday,” when an extraordinary shareholder meeting will be held.

Lufthansa warned last week that a failure to secure shareholder approval for the bailout could force it to apply for protection from creditors under German insolvency law.

The bailout requires the support of more than two thirds of shareholders. Thiele, who has 15.5% of Lufthansa’s shares, objects to the German state taking a 20% stake and seats on its supervisory board.

Writing by Arno Schuetze; editing by Thomas Seythal

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