Bumping this thread back up as I have been giving some thought recently to how a simple-ish but at least somewhat (only somewhat!) realistic system for buying and selling airlines might work. Here's my suggested model:
(1) Every player acts as an investor. At the same time they can be CEO of one airline at a time.
(2) Ownership of any airline is split in to 25 "blocks" of 4% equity. One person could own all 25 blocks, 25 people could own a block each, or somewhere in between. The CEO salary line of staff costs would be removed - players make their money through investments.
(3) Each year, every airline has an AGM. In advance of this date, all investors in an airline select two things on a special screen: whether they want to retain the current CEO or advertise for a new one; and what percentage of revenues (within a fixed range, say 1% to 20%) they want to be distributed to investors. These two decisions are then taken based on ownership percentages - the dividend calculated proportionally.
- Example: London Airlines is 60% owned by Player A, 24% owned by Player B and 16% owned by Player C. Player A votes to retain the CEO and for a 5% dividend, Player B votes to retain the CEO but for a 12% dividend, Player C is not happy and votes to sack the CEO and have a 20% dividend. As 84% of the shareholdings voted to retain the CEO he stays in place, and the dividend will work out as 9% (average of 60x5%, 24x12%, 16x20%, rounded to nearest 1%) so 9% of revenues will be distributed amongst the investors based on their shareholdings.
(4) At any time, an airline's CEO can choose to make a special dividend payout to shareholders, which will be divided up according to shareholding. The CEO can also choose to inject cash in to the airline from their own funds at any time. Other investors cannot do this (to stop an essentially bankrupt airline being propped up indefinitely by benevolent investors).
At Game Start:
Each player is given a certain amount of money. They can use this money to found an airline of which they own 100% or they can accept investments from a number of AI "investors" - each of whom will have certain demands in order for the CEO to retain their vote at the AGM, but based on different things (Investor A might demand a fleet size of at least 10, Investor B that the average age of the fleet is less than 10 years, Investor C a CI of at least 40 etc). This gives the players a strategic choice at the start - accept (comparatively small amounts of) funding and dilute your influence or retain 100% control of the company yourself.
After Three Years:
Three years after the GW starts (I suggest one year for those airlines established after the GW is at least 3 years old) these investors will put their investments on to the open market. The player can also choose to put some of their equity up for sale (in blocks of 4%) or use their own funds to buy equity in other airlines. This would probably be on something very much like the current used market (although I'd love it if ebay style auctions could be put in). A player can put more than half their equity up for sale (e.g. 13% chunks of 4% would be 52%) but they will get big flashing warnings if they do that they could end up losing control of the CEO position if the other investors disapprove of them! One slightly difficult situation here is that if somebody wants to buy a stake in the company they should be allowed to see the balance sheet first - but this means players having to give away their data. I'd suggest there is a "deposit" charge of about 10% of the cost of the equity to view the balance sheet, discouraging those who are not serious about investing from nosing in to their competitors' business.
When an airline bankrupts:
When an airline BKs for whatever reason, their airline is put up for sale with 60 days to submit bids. Anyone taking on the airline assumes its assets - aircraft owned, slots etc - but also its liabilities - debts, loans and aircraft leases. If an airline was actually quite healthy (just BKing because the owner got bored for example) its loans are repaid and then bidding starts from the amount of cash on hand the airline had, to stop people from getting free money by buying defunct airlines.
There would be two ways to submit bids for a defunct airline: one to bid for the whole airline; two to bid for a bit part of it. An airline would be split in to parts based on two things: its bases; and the division of domestic, international short-haul and international long-haul that the game already makes. So a big airline with 2 bases that flew all three of these categories could potentially be divided in to 6 parts: each part coming with a certain number of slots and appropriate aircraft, as well as a share of the company debts (perhaps proportional to the total seat capacity of the aircraft being acquired). This approach is necessary to stop a situation where a huge airline going BK can't be bought by anyone because no-one has enough cash!
After 60 days the system looks at whether more money can be made from selling the airline as a whole, or from selling it off in different parts. It will then accept the offer (or combination of offers) that earns the most money and pass this to the investors of the BKed airline. If any parts of the airline are not sold they will be liquidated with the slots returned to the pool, the leased a/c returned to the owner/broker and any owned aircraft sold to a broker at a discount and the money distributed to investors.
Upon taking control of an airline:
When a player takes control of more than 50% of an airline - either through buying part or all of a BKed one, or through buying equity in an ongoing airline, they have up to four choices of what to do with it:
(1) Merge it in to another airline of which they own more than 50%. However, this is subject to the usual basing rules so if you are based in Canada you can't buy an airline based in Singapore and merge. Also if a merger would mean the new airline owned more than 60% of the 0500-2300 slots in a class 5 airport, 70% in a class 4, 80% in a class 3 or 90% in a class 2 they will have to surrender some slots to the public pool as a result of anti-monopoly provisions.
(2) Found a new airline and establish themselves as the CEO. In this case, the airline of which they were previously CEO (if any) will advertise for a new CEO.
(3) Found a new airline and advertise for someone else to take over as CEO. In this case, an advertisement runs for 60 days after which the owner can select the person they would like to take over.
(4) Liquidate the airline, paying off any debts themselves and transferring any owned a/c to any other airline they own more than 50% of. Slots are returned to the public pool and leased a/c to their owners.
(Incidentally I know that IRL there are lots of rules in every country about foreign investors but I think these should be set aside - other than the basing rules - to make the simulation more interesting. Otherwise everyone who may want to buy an airline in future will all base in EU or US, making the whole thing less interesting).
Advantages of this system
(1) Reduce mid-game boredom for big airlines.
(2) Clear measure of "winning" a GW = person (not airline) with highest value at game end.
(3) BKed airlines don't just disappear, more realistic.
(4) More options for people joining a game midway through - start your own airline or apply to be CEO of another one.
(5) I think it's about as simple as a genuine system for buying and selling equity can be.
Probably loads. There are bound to be loopholes through which this system could be abused, but if something like this were to go ahead I'm sure the community would help sami figure out what these might be and how to close them. It's also still pretty complicated, despite being as straightforward as I could make it - a hindrance to new players? Perhaps it would be best only applied to super-long gameworlds (e.g. 1960 - 2030) of the type that have been talked about.