UK should retain “meaningful” NATS stake: Deakin

The UK’s NATS chief has urged the government to retain a stake in the company as it considers whether to sell all, part or none of its 49 per cent holding in NATS, Europe´s only privatized ANSP.
Speaking at the UK Aviation Club, NATS chief executive Richard Deakin said: “Our relationship with the Government will always be crucial no matter what the level of its stake in the company. We’re not afraid of them selling off a bit more of us – but I believe it will continue to be important for the Government to be a visible part of our Board.”
“I do know that they will be receiving a number of submissions from NATS
– from our shareholders… the Airline Group, BAA, the Government’s
Partnership directors and our Employee Share Trust. And there will be
one from the management team, too,” he said.
This week the Government’s Call for Evidence closed and Deakin said NATS would “wait with interest” to see the kind of feedback they have received.
“So much of what we do is in partnership with the European ATM industry
which is still exclusively state-owned. In the ten years since the PPP we
have won supporters among the EU institutions and other ATC providers
from an initial position of suspicion and scepticism of a PPP, to a position
of trust and respect.”
“European credentials are an essential item on the list of factors which will
achieve greater co-operation – if we’re to achieve the pan-European
safety, value and service improvements promised by the Single European
Sky.”
“I believe it would be a significant challenge to continue operating with the
same status with European partners unless the Government retained a
meaningful minimal presence … and made that intention clear,” said Deakin.
He added that greater share access for NATS employees would signal greater confidence in, and commitment to, its future success.
“I’ve made no secret that if there is a further sale, I would like employees
to be allowed greater access to share ownership. Our staff currently own
five per cent through a share trust which gives individuals a stake of up to around £8,000 in the company if they’ve been in since the beginning.”

Posted in CAAs/ANSPs, News

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