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Icelandic investment group builds 6 percent stake in American Airlines parent

Icelandic investment group builds 6 percent stake in American Airlines parent

An Icelandic investment firm is reportedly seeking a meeting with managers of American Airlines after accumulating a 6 percent stake in the parent company of the largest U.S. air carrier.
The investment makes FL Group hf, an Icelandic limited-liability company, the third-largest holder of shares in AMR Corp., American's parent. The investment comes as speculation increases about possible mergers in the U.S. airline industry.
A Securities and Exchange Commission filing by FL Group late Tuesday revealed that 12.82 million of its shares, worth nearly $400 million (euro304 million) at AMR's current stock price, are owned by the Icelandic firm. FL Group's other holdings include stakes in banking and financial services, beverage companies, luxury retail and a number of European airlines.
The Financial Times reported Wednesday that FL Group plans to ask AMR for a meeting. It quoted the firm's chief executive, Hannes Smarason, as saying FL Group wanted to discuss strategic issues with AMR, but he declined to give specifics.
Officials at FL Group did not immediately return a call for comment. A spokesman for AMR said the company does not comment on the investment activities of its shareholders.
Reports of possible deals in the airline industry have boomed since last month, when US Airways Group Inc. launched a hostile takeover bid for larger rival Delta Air Lines Inc.
Sources say UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, the nation's No. 2 carrier behind American, is in early stages of talks with Continental Airlines Inc.
The talk of mergers comes as U.S. airlines are poised to record their first profitable year since 2000 and are enjoying a boom in their stock prices. AMR shares have gained 38 percent this year through Tuesday, and Continental's shares have jumped 95 percent.
In midday trading Wednesday, AMR shares were down 50 cents or 1.6 percent, at $30.20 on the New York Stock Exchange.