Transat A.T. shareholders approve sale to Air Canada
Published Friday, August 23, 2019 11:55AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 23, 2019 8:29PM EDT
A whopping 95 percent of Transat A.T. shareholders are in favour of selling the business to Air Canada.
At a special meeting held Friday in Montreal, shareholders of the holding company that operates Air Transat voted in favour of selling their shares to Air Canada for $18 apiece.
Air Transat's CEO said the Air Canada offer was the best deal for the company.
Some shareholders disagreed. Shareholder Gerald Dubois said he wanted Transat to "stay a Quebec company."
Transat President and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache tried to assuage those concerns, saying "Air Canada is Quebecois, the head office is in Quebec, all the management team is in Quebec."
Analyst Michel Nadeau said the acquisition is a way to ensure stability for the company.
"We don't know what will happen to oil prices, to new regulations in the United States, Mr.Trump's administration, interest rates, if there is a recession with an increase in interest rates... So there are many factors and Transat is not in a very strong cash position," said Nadeau.
"They bought Airbus planes, they have a lot of costs, very heavy costs."
Nadeau noted that the deal would present issues for travellers, as 62 per cent of Canadian flights to Europe would be run by Air Canada, which could lead to higher prices.
"Everywhere in the world the airline industry is really in the process of concentration," he said. "In the U.S., four airlines control more than 80 per cent of the market."
Shareholder Mario Bernard agreed that it was a deal that would strengthen Transat.
"When we look what will happen later in that industry I think it's ok to vote for that," said Bernard. "If we want to save in the long term that beautiful company I think it's fair."
On the other hand, Dubois is no fan of Air Canada.
"I lost money with them. Their shares keep going up and down depending on who is in charge of it," he said.
Earlier this year Air Canada offered $13 per share in its takeover bid, but that was increased after Groupe Mach offered a slightly higher price, and the largest group of shareholders, Letko, Brosseau and Associates, rejected the initial offer.
Groupe Mach had also tried to buy 20 percent of shares earlier this month to gain more leverage, but that was blocked by the Administrative Court of Financial markets.
Quebecor CEO and President Pierre Karl Peladeau, who owns about 1.6 percent of Transat's shares, said that he was going to vote against the offer and make his own bid if the Air Canada deal fell through.
The sale still has to be approved by regulatory authorities.
Air Transat's CEO said he believes approval will come early next year.