Money

JetBlue Lifts Offer for Spirit Airlines, Commits to Selling Assets

JetBlue is increasing its offer to $33.50 in cash per Spirit share from the previous $31.50 per share; a JetBlue Airways plane takes off last May in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.



Photo:

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

JetBlue Airways Corp.


JBLU 5.30%

is continuing its quest to buy

Spirit Airlines Inc.,


SAVE 2.11%

increasing its offer and strengthening its commitment to divest itself of assets to get regulatory approval for the deal.

JetBlue


JBLU 5.30%

on Monday increased its offer to $33.50 in cash per Spirit share. Previously, it had offered $31.50 per share.

Spirit is weighing whether to go ahead with a planned acquisition by

Frontier Group Holdings Inc.

or to accept

JetBlue’s

offer. The budget airline was supposed to hold a shareholder vote on the

Frontier

deal earlier this month, but postponed it to negotiate with both its suitors.

JetBlue’s move is the latest development in what has become a public negotiation. JetBlue and Frontier both consider Spirit to be important to their ability to grow and go up against the bigger airlines that dominate the industry. Either deal would create the fifth-largest U.S. airline.

JetBlue began its series of offers for Spirit with one worth a $33 per share when it swooped in about two months after Spirit and Frontier announced their plans to merge in February. It then launched a tender offer for Spirit’s shares at $30 per share after Spirit rejected JetBlue’s initial gambit.

Spirit last week said it would give both JetBlue and Frontier access to the same due diligence information. Its board said it expects to complete discussions with both carriers ahead of the shareholder meeting scheduled for June 30.

“The dialogue and information provided strengthened our conviction,” JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes wrote to Spirit’s board Monday. Mr. Hayes said he still wants to reach a “friendly, negotiated agreement,” but would continue its campaign to convince shareholders to vote against the Frontier deal if Spirit doesn’t agree that JetBlue has put forward the superior offer.

JetBlue had previously said it would be willing to divest assets to persuade regulators to sign off on the deal. It said Monday that its latest offer “significantly increases” the divestitures it would be willing to commit to in order to obtain regulatory approval.

Spirit and Frontier didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Write to Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com

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JetBlue Lifts Offer for Spirit Airlines, Commits to Selling Assets Source link JetBlue Lifts Offer for Spirit Airlines, Commits to Selling Assets

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