Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Air Canada boosts Transat bid by C$200 million

Air Canada says it will spend more to buy Transat A.T. Inc. upping its total offer by $200 million and winning the support of the tour company's largest shareholder. A model airplane is seen in front of the newly revealed Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Drea Air Canada ups purchase price in Transat bid, securing largest shareholder's support
Russell Knight | 13 August, 2019, 09:23

Air Canada's (AC.TO) revised C$720 million ($544 million) bid for Canadian tour operator Transat AT (TRZ.TO) is a fair offer and should secure investor backing for the transaction, Transat's fourth-largest shareholder said on Monday.

"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", said Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada.

Critically, Air Canada locked up support from Letko Brosseau & Associates Inc., which owns about 19.3 per cent of Transat's voting shares.

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.

Transat's airline primarily ferries passengers in packaged vacations. It requires two thirds support, which would have been hard to cross without Letko Brosseau thanks to a competing proposal from Montreal-based developer Group Mach. It had hoped to secure the shares and then vote against Air Canada's offer, which requires at least two-thirds support from shareholders.

"They still need to be accountable to shareholders on why they pushed that $13-per-share offer like they pushed it", Chiara told The Canadian Press.

"At this price, we think it's a fair offer", Pandya said in a phone interview.

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Group Mach's offer of $14 per share for 19.5 per cent of class B voting shares represented the only rival bid. "So Air Canada was going to walk away paying $200 million less to this company than they should have or could have".

An Air Transat plane is seen as an Air Canada plane lands at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal on May 16, 2019. "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".

The tribunal ruling, which says the bid "constitutes an abusive offer contrary to the public interest", means the Montreal-based company can not acquire any shares under its scheme and must return to shareholders any stocks already deposited. It prohibited Mach from buying shares under its proposal and ordered it to return any shares already deposited. "We look forward to joining forces with a proven and successful player in our highly competitive and complex industry" said Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat.

Buggé called the ruling "absurd and erroneous" while acknowledging Mach's options are limited.

Transat would now have to pay $40 million if the Air Canada transaction was terminated under certain circumstances, including the acceptance of a so-called "superior proposal".

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

Shareholders are slated to vote on the Air Canada offer August 23, which is expected to face intense scrutiny from the Competition Bureau and other regulatory authorities. We are therefore very pleased to have received Letko Brosseau's strong endorsement for our transaction.

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