Qantas accepts sweetened bid

Australian airline accepts improved takeover offer.

    The bidding consortium moved to reassure unions and
    politicians that the airline would not be broken up


    Jackson said the bid price was 33 per cent above the price Qantas shares were trading at before news of the possible takeover emerged in early November.
     
    On Wednesday Qantas shares plunged more than 2.5 per cent after the airline rejected the consortium’s initial offer of A$5.50 a share.
     
    Ownership caps
     
    The consortium, named Airline Partners Australia, has been shaped to ensure it meets government ownership caps on Australia's flag carrier, which require that Qantas remains majority Australian-owned, with no individual shareholder owning more than 25 per cent.
     
    The group includes Allco Equity Partners with a 34 per cent stake, Allco Finance Group with 11 per cent and Macquarie Bank with less than 15 per cent.
     
    The two non-Australian members, Canadian investment firm Onex Corp. and Texas Pacific, together hold a total of less than 40 percent.
     
    A spokesman for the consortium said he wanted to reassure politicians and unions that the new owners would not break up Qantas, send its maintenance operations offshore or cut regional routes.
     
    Icon
     
    The possible sale of Qantas, an Australian icon, has stirred nationalistic sentiment reaching the top levels of Australian politics.
     
    However, John Howard, the Australian prime minister, said he would not oppose the deal as long as it complied with existing investment laws.
     
    The Qantas board's recommendation to accept the offer is subject to receiving an opinion from an independent expert that it is fair and reasonable.
     
    Another condition is that 90 per cent of Qantas shareholders must approve the deal.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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