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Twice turned away, JetBlue tries to buy Spirit Airlines in hostile takeover

By Ashley Williams
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Twice turned away, JetBlue tries to buy Spirit Airlines in hostile takeover
JetBlue on Monday asked Spirit shareholders to vote against a previous deal with Frontier, and instead accept its new offer of $30 per share. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- After two failed efforts to acquire budget carrier Spirit, Jetblue said on Monday made a direct appeal to Spirit shareholders to accept a buyout and reject a different deal involving Frontier Airlines.

JetBlue made its first offer in early April and the second a few weeks later. Both times, Spirit declined the offer due to concerns that it wouldn't pass antitrust regulators.

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On Monday, JetBlue bypassed the company and went straight to Spirit stockholders -- an attempt at a hostile takeover. A takeover is considered hostile when one company tries to acquire another that is unwilling to be sold. One way to do this is to lobby a target company's shareholders.

JetBlue asked the shareholders to vote against Spirit's previous deal with Frontier, which would form the fifth-largest carrier in the United States, and instead accept $30 per share from JetBlue.

"This represents a 60% premium to the value of the Frontier transaction," JetBlue said in a statement Monday, adding that it would also consider bumping that up to the $33-per-share offer it first made in April.

Spirit shareholders are scheduled to vote in a few weeks on the carrier's previous deal with Frontier. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
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"JetBlue offers more value -- a significant premium in cash -- more certainty, and more benefits for all stakeholders," it added.

Spirit's main reason behind rejecting previous JetBlue offers is that the Justice Department is already blocking JetBlue's alliance with American Airlines on antitrust grounds.

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Frontier made its offer earlier this year at almost $26 per share.

In its appeal to Spirit shareholders, JetBlue argued that Frontier's stock price has fallen 30% since the merger was announced, pushing the value of the deal down by $770 million.

"A vote against the Frontier transaction is a vote for a higher Spirit share price," JetBlue said. "A vote for the Frontier transaction is a vote for a lower Spirit share price."

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Spirit shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Frontier deal on June 10.

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