Hungary has chosen a company backed by Russia's fourth largest airline for exclusive talks on the sale of state airline Malev, state privatization company APV said Thursday.
AirBridge is a Hungarian company backed by KrasAir, Russia's fourth-largest airline.
The only other bid, from Lithuania's airline LAL, was considered to lack necessary financial guarantees, APV said in a statement.
"We made the best professional and financial offer for Malev, which we backed up with guarantees," Boris Abramovich, the main owner of AirBridge, said in a statement. "We are ready to conclude negotiations."
Hungary has made several previous efforts to sell troubled Malev, which has state-guaranteed debts of some 30 billion forints (US$152 million, euro117 million).
The Hungarian government would have to approve the sale, APV said.
Earlier, LAL estimated that Malev would need some euro100 million (US$130 million) to make it competitive and said that Malev's losses were bigger than the amount disclosed at the start of privatization talks.
KrasAir is partly owned by brothers Boris and Alexander Abramovich, with the Russian government holding a 51% stake.