Dasburg, Investors to Buy DHL airways

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The purchase of DHL Airways by a group of U.S. investors led by the company chairman is expected to be completed by June 30, according to news reports.

Chairman/CEO John Dasburg, along with Richard C. Blum of San Francisco's Blum Capital Partners and other U.S. investors, will buy the DHL Airways shares Dasburg does not already own from Idaho investor William Robinson and from DHL Holdings for $57 million. Dasburg currently has a 5 percent stake.

The transaction is subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dasburg, who became chairman/CEO April 1, reportedly will remain in that position.

The news comes as the DOT investigates whether DHL Airways violates laws limiting how much a foreign entity can hold in a U.S.-based airline.

Belgium-based DHL Worldwide, a subsidiary of German postal service Deutsche Post, owns 52 percent of DHL Airways, but controls just 25 percent of the voting shares because of the limits on foreign ownership. Robinson owns 75 percent of the company's voting shares.

Congress had ordered the DOT to investigate complaints from FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service that Deutsche Post effectively controls DHL Airways, and therefore is in violation of U.S. law limiting foreign ownership of domestic airlines.

The DOT's chief administrative law judge overseeing the DHL Airways citizenship case has scheduled a pre-hearing conference for May 27.

The outcome of the DOT investigation also could affect plans by Deutsche Post unit DHL Worldwide to buy Airborne Inc.'s ground delivery business for $1 billion. Airborne's air operation would become an independent public company called ABX Air Inc.

FedEx and UPS also have filed proposals with the DOT charging that the Airborne acquisition may violate U.S. limits on foreign control of domestic airlines.

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