JetBlue agrees to buy Spirit Airlines for $3.8bn | Aviation News

The deal announcement comes after months of thorny negotiations and bidding wars.

JetBlue Airways has agreed to purchase Spirit Airways for $3.8bn and create the nation’s fifth-largest airline if the deal can win approval from antitrust regulators.

The settlement Thursday capped a months-long bidding warfare and arrives sooner or later after Spirit’s try to merge with fellow finances provider Frontier Airways fell aside.

Spirit CEO Ted Christie was thrust into the awkward place of defending a sale to JetBlue after arguing vehemently in opposition to the deal, saying that antitrust regulators would by no means let it occur.

“Quite a bit’s been stated over the previous few months clearly, all the time with our stakeholders in thoughts,” Christie stated on CNBC. “We have now been listening to the parents at JetBlue, and so they have a variety of good ideas on their plans for that.”

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has argued all alongside {that a} bigger JetBlue would create extra competitors for the 4 airways that management about 80 p.c of the US market — American, United, Delta and Southwest.

Shares of Spirit, primarily based in Miramar, Florida, rose 3.7 p.c after the inventory market opened Thursday morning.

JetBlue and Spirit will proceed to function independently till the settlement is accredited by regulators and Spirit shareholders, with their separate loyalty applications and buyer accounts.

The businesses stated they count on to conclude the regulatory course of and shut the transaction no later than the primary half of 2024. If that occurs, the mixed airline can be primarily based in JetBlue’s hometown of New York and led by Hayes. It will have a fleet of 458 planes.

JetBlue stated on Thursday that it might pay $33.50 per share in money for Spirit, together with a prepayment of $2.50 per share in money payable as soon as Spirit stockholders approve the transaction. There may be additionally a ticking price of 10 cents per share every month beginning in January 2023 by way of closing to compensate Spirit shareholders for any delay in successful regulatory approval.

If the deal doesn’t shut on account of antitrust causes, JetBlue can pay Spirit a reverse break-up price of $70m and pay Spirit shareholders $400m, minus any quantities paid to the shareholders previous to termination.

Spirit and Frontier introduced their plan to merge in February, and Spirit’s board stood by that deal even after JetBlue made a higher-priced provide in April. Nevertheless, Spirit’s board may by no means persuade the airline’s shareholders to go alongside. A vote on the merger was postponed 4 occasions, then reduce brief Wednesday when Spirit and Frontier introduced they have been terminating their settlement, which made a Spirit-JetBlue coupling inevitable.

JetBlue anticipated $600m to $700m in annual financial savings as soon as the transaction is full. Annual income for the mixed firm was anticipated to be about $11.9bn, primarily based on 2019 revenues.