Air Canada ups purchase price in Transat bid, securing largest shareholder's support

13 Août, 2019, 09:25 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • An Air Transat plane is seen as an Air Canada plane lands at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal on Thursday

Quebec's securities tribunal has barred a developer's offer to buy up Transat shares, halting Group Mach's bid to block the tour operator's sale to Air Canada - and leaving the country's largest airline as the only player publicly vying for the company.

Air Canada will spend more to buy Transat A.T. Inc., the airline announced Sunday, saying it has upped the total offer by $200 million to win the support of the tour company's largest shareholder. Air Canada needs the support of two-thirds of Transat shareholders during a meeting to be held on August 23 in Montreal.

Mach attempted to block the Air Canada deal with an offer to buy almost one-fifth (19.5 per cent) of Transat's voting shares for $14 per share. Air Canada's break fee is also $40 million.

Rovinescu said his company was "very pleased to have received Letko Brosseau's strong endorsement for our transaction".

"Given the substantially higher bid by Air Canada and the decision of the Tribunal, the noise surrounding Group Mach's proposal has all but disappeared", Nazir added.

Air Canada will pay more for Transat than it originally intended but the new $720 million price tag will help pave the way for the proposed acquisition, with support via a lock-up agreement with Transat's biggest shareholder.

"If it weren't for us, there would never have been a higher offer", Alfred Buggé, Mach's head of mergers and acquisitions, said in a telephone interview.

Transat shares were up $4.91 at $16.70 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.

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Transat in June accepted Air Canada's earlier all-cash bid of C$13 a share, over a C$14 per share offer from Group Mach. "It begs the question: What was the board of Transat thinking when they told shareholders to take the earlier offer?"

Transat's board has recommended that its shareholders approve the deal with Air Canada, which is expected to be completed early next year, the companies said. We know this achieves the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.

Updates to the agreement also include an increase in the break fee payable by Transat from $15 million to $40 million in case of termination of the agreement. "For shareholders of Transat and Air Canada, the combination delivers excellent value while also providing increased job security for both companies' employees through greater growth prospects".

Air Canada sweetened the deal after several large shareholders, including PenderFund, balked at the initial C$13/share price. "The Quebec economy will derive maximum advantage of having a Montreal-based, growth-oriented global champion in aviation, the world's most worldwide business, spurring more employment and securing Montréal's position as a leader among world aviation centres".

"We could appeal the decision, but it's a bit theoretical", he said. It requires approval from federal transportation and competition regulators.

"The deal is still not a foregone conclusion", he added.

Two Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircrafts are seen on the ground as Air Canada Embraer aircraft flies in the background at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2019.

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