With a June 10 meeting looming in less than three weeks, Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie believes his company’s shareholders will vote that day to approve the carrier’s proposed merger with Frontier Airlines – and reject a hostile takeover bid by JetBlue Airways.
The convoluted scenario began in February when Spirit and Frontier agreed to a $2.9 billion merger. Then last month, JetBlue jumped in with a move that shocked the aviation industry – a counteroffer to acquire Spirit in an all-cash $3.6 billion deal.
Spirit rejected that initial bid, prompting JetBlue earlier this month to announce a hostile takeover bid.
But on Monday, Christie said he would be surprised if Spirit stockholders did not vote for the original Frontier proposal on June 10.
“The vote that we will be soliciting from our shareholders on the 10th is a vote for the Frontier merger,” Christie said during an analyst call according to Reuters News Service.
That’s not surprising, given that Christie and Spirit’s Board of Directors had previously recommended their airline pass on the JetBlue offer out of fear that the Department of Justice – which along with six states is suing JetBlue and American Airlines over its Northeast Alliance merger – will reject the merger. The DOJ believes the Northeast Alliance could create a monopoly in the New York/Boston/Philadelphia corridor.
The surprise is that, on the same analyst call, Christie said even if shareholders somehow rejected the Spirit-Frontier deal that Spirit would remain its own stand-alone branded airline.
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