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The Dutch have upset the French – again. Air France-KLM, and how it manages to function with two clearly different cultures, has always been mystifying. But now the Dutch are trying to claw back a little control. Yesterday their government, in what the French – rather amazingly given the circumstances – worried was “national public interference”, bought a 12.68% stake in the group, and aims to match France’s 14.3% share. The Dutch, unsurprisingly, appear to be thrilled – on Twitter, anyway. The French, triggering thoughts of pots and kettles, talked about “a coup” and a “thunderbolt” and were concerned that the merged entity “will be held hostage by two shareholders, each with a different strategic vision”. (Presumably, with just one major shareholder, then, any other strategic vision could be happily over-ruled.) The Dutch government paid €680m “to protect Dutch interests” and “ensure a seat at the table”. It did not consult the group board or the French state, apparently. Hence the surprise. The BBC reports.
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