SEPI and Globalia entrust Air Europa to an Iberia veteran to refloat it | Economy

Valentín Lago, an executive expert in airlines, will be in charge of the refloating of Air Europa after the agreement reached between the Spanish Society of Industrial Participations (SEPI) and Globalia, the group that owns the airline that has requested public aid. The appointment as CEO is pending that the general meeting of the Hidalgo family group appoints him as a member of the board of directors and that, subsequently, this body appoints him CEO. Lago is a man close to Luis Gallego, head of IAG, the group that Air Europa will join after its purchase by Iberia.

The appointment of Valentín Lago has been preceded by several negotiations between Globalia and SEPI after Air Europa requested 450 million grants from the Fund for Support to the Solvency of Strategic Companies managed by the state group. This request involved the involvement of SEPI in the management of the airline and, among other actions, the proposal to appoint Lago. The new top executive of Air Europa also has the backing of Luis Gallego, CEO of IAG, which includes Iberia and which closed the deferred purchase of Air Europa for 500 million in January, which is a good bridge in the dialogue between the two companies. In the end, the owner and founder of Globalia, Juan José Hidalgo, also gave Lago the go-ahead after a meeting they held on Monday.

Lago is an aeronautical engineer from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and a doctor in Economics. 48 years old, he has an experience of more than 25 years in the sector. After 10 years at Indra as a consultant, in 2002 he was appointed Quality Director of Air Nostrum, an airline for which he worked for more than a decade and which he entered as maintenance manager. In 2012, he signed for Iberia Express, where he assumed the direction of Production. During this period, the regional subsidiary of the flag company was one of the best in the sector in terms of costs and punctuality. Lago highlighted, according to sources consulted, in the signing of the collective agreements of the technical and auxiliary crews, an issue that he also developed at Vueling, which he joined in 2016 to fix the crisis with Luis Gallego already in charge of Iberia. After leaving Vueling in 2019, he founded Ideair Consulting and was now at the food firm Padesa.

Before making this appointment, SEPI added Juan Bujía and José Ángel Partearroyo to the Air Europa board. The former, whose career has been linked to Iberia, was general director of Civil Aviation between 1991 and 1996, while Partearroyo is a director of SEPI specializing in commercial law and mergers and acquisitions. For its part, Globalia appointed Juan José Hidalgo, as president; Miguel Ángel Sánchez Jiménez, as financial director, and Ramiro Campos Gallego, as general director of Legal Advice, who also assumed the functions of secretary. The conditions for receiving public aid include the appointment of two directors and subsequently agreeing on a CEO.

Air Europa was the first entity to sign up for the aforementioned fund for aid to strategic companies controlled by SEPI. To the 475 million of the fund, add the 140 million that the company previously received in loans guaranteed by the ICO. SEPI decided to divide the company into three: Air Europa, Air Europa Holding and Air Express. Each will have a council of five members (three from Globalia and two from SEPI).

The agreement reached between Iberia and Globalia last January for the acquisition of Air Europa for an amount of 500 million euros in cash has a term of six years for its execution. The sale will entail a 50% reduction compared to the price initially agreed in November 2019.