The parent group of Emirates Airlines has bought a 19% stake in travel management company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) in a move that could prepare the way for an eventual takeover.

Emirates Group said it had no intention of making a formal bid for HRG and intended to be a long-term investor, but it has reserved the right to undertake a future buy-out.

The stake was purchased by Emirates-owned Dnata, a corporate travel partner of HRG in the Middle East. Dnata also provides ground handling, cargo and air travel services. The stake is worth £28 million.

Emirates is owned by the Dubai government and reported a profit of $1.4 billion last year. HRG reported profits of £25 million in the last financial year on a turnover of £332 million. It issued a profits warning in March.

HRG chief executive David Radcliffe said: “Dnata has made this move to be a long-term investor in HRG.”