Air New Zealand is set to sell either all or part of its 26% holding in Virgin Australia, effectively saying the $350m it’s got tied up in the loss-making carrier could be better used elsewhere.

Chairman Tony Carter today said Air New Zealand “does not want a large minority equity position in Virgin Australia as it focuses on its own growth opportunities”.

The carrier has retained First NZ Capital and Credit Suisse to advise on its options, while Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon has resigned for the Virgin Australia board.

Air New Zealand is Virgin’s largest shareholder. Etihad owns 24.2%, Singapore Airlines 22.8% while Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has about 10%.

Virgin’s shares fell 10% on the news.

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