Onex signs agreement to buy WestJet in $5B deal

16 Mai, 2019, 03:57 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Onex shakes up Canada’s airline industry with all-cash deal to buy WestJet

"We are working with some dedicated and loyal WestJet frontline workers who know that by joining Unifor they can gain that voice at this pivotal time in the company's history".

However, Air Canada, which hatched its own plan to buy Canadian Airlines, made several moves to complicate the Onex bid, including adopting a poison pill created to drive up the price. Twenty years ago, it teamed up with American Airlines' parent company AMR Corp.in a hostile $1.8-billion bid, plus the assumption of deb, t to acquire and merge Canadian Airlines - then the country's second-biggest carrier - and Air Canada.

Up to Friday's close, WestJet shares had fallen 5.5% in the last 12 months while Air Canada shares gained 58%.

"WestJet is renowned internationally for its unparalleled guest experience and employee culture".

Onex has not yet spelled out its plans for WestJet, which has marketed itself as an airline where customers are treated well because employees are incentivized through opportunities for stock purchases and profit-sharing to take control of situations and solve problems.

The deal, which has a value of $5 billion including debt, is expected to close in the latter part of this year or early next year.

Alberta's Premier said on Monday that WestJet and Onex have assured him the carrier's headquarters will remain in Calgary after the deal.

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The deal is much-needed for WestJet, which saw a 23-percent drop in its stock over the past five years as Air Canada has soared, according to Bloomberg.

"The WestJet board of directors, having received and considered the recommendation of the special committee, determined that the transaction is in the best interests of WestJet and unanimously recommends that WestJet shareholders vote in favor of the transaction at the special meeting of shareholders to be held to approve the transaction, " it said.

George Ferguson, an analyst for Bloomberg, said Onex could help ensure WestJet's future success.

Analyst Doug Taylor of Canaccord Genuity said the Onex deal likely will not "dramatically alter" the competitive landscape.

"By moving to private ownership, it is our hope that WestJet will have greater latitude to make long-term strategic investments, growing its fleet and global network of destinations, including direct overseas flights from Alberta", Kenney said in a statement.

A number of conditions have to be met before the sale can be finalized, including court and shareholder approval and receipt of regulatory approvals, including approval under the Canada Transportation Act. "In our view, a private equity owner of an airline is likely to remain rational with respect to its approach to yields and profitability (versus) market share".

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