By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer
DHL Airways, the locally based cargo airline, said Wednesday that its president and CEO would lead an American investment team to buy the company for $57 million.
John Dasburg, who has also been president of Northwest Airlines, will buy 42.75 percent of the company's privately held stock from Deutsche Post, the German postal conglomerate that owns DHL Worldwide Express.
That company, the world leader in express air freight, operates its lone domestic hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where DHL Airways has 40 planes and employs 489 pilots.
The group also will buy 52.25 percent of the outstanding stock owned by investor William Robinson. Dasburg already owns 5 percent of DHL Airways.
This gives Dasburg and his group full control of the airline - Robinson holds 75 percent of the voting shares.
The purchase comes in the midst of an administrative law hearing ordered by Congress over the ownership of DHL Airways.
During testimony late last month, the airline's lawyers had announced Dasburg's intent to buy the airline.
United Parcel Service and Federal Express claim that DHL Airways is violating U.S. law regarding foreign ownership of a domestic airline, leading to the hearing. A ruling is due Oct. 31.
DHL Airways officials said that the purchase, which is subject to regulatory approval by the Department of Transportation, would not change the local operation or the management team, which is now based in Miami.
"DHL Airways is hopeful that any lingering doubts that have been raised about the airline's citizenship will be resolved," company spokesman Matthew Triaca said.
DHL Airways officials say that Dasburg will look to expand the company through "new internal expansion and future acquisitions."
The deal also comes as Deutsche Post is purchasing Seattle-based Airborne Express for just more than $1 billion. That company operates its main U.S. hub in Wilmington, Ohio.
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