Gala Bids on Iberia

MADRID, Spain (AP) – Iberia said Thursday it has received a takeover approach from a group of investors led by Spanish private equity firm Gala Capital that values the flagship Spanish carrier at as much as euro3.76 billion (US$5.53 billion).

In a regulatory filing, Iberia said it has received a letter from the group asking for access to the airline's books. It said the letter mentions an indicative offer price range of euro3.60 to euro3.90 (US$5.29 to US$5.73) a share.

Madrid-based Iberia received a takeover approach in March from U.S. private equity firm TPG. The firm's preliminary offer was for euro3.60 a share, or about euro3.41 billion (US$5.01 billion). It has since built a consortium including key Iberia shareholder British Airways and several Spanish financial investors to prepare a binding offer for the company.

In response, some of Iberia's Spanish shareholders have been looking for higher offers for the carrier, the nation's largest airline by revenue. The Spanish shareholders of Iberia include savings bank Caja Madrid, retailer El Corte Ingles and cigarette distributor Compania de Distribucion Integral Logista SA.

Iberia shares rose more than 4 percent after the company confirmed the potential offer, prompting stock market regulators to suspend trading in the shares. When trading resumed, they were up 4.6 percent to