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Air Canada’s $520M bid for Transat unlikely to be topped: analysts

Air Canada’s $520M bid for Transat unlikely to be topped: analysts
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Analysts say it’s unlikely another bidder will emerge to trump Air Canada’s $520-million proposed takeover of rival Transat AT Inc.

Air Canada announced Thursday it had entered into a 30-day exclusive arrangement to try to negotiate the purchase of the parent company of airline Air Transat for $13 per share.

Transat shares were unchanged Friday after rising more than 13.4 per cent on Thursday to a closing price of $12.

Analyst Kevin Chiang of CIBC World Markets says he’s not expecting a higher bid, noting the $13 offer represents a premium of 148 per cent over the 20-day average share price before Transat announced on April 30 that it was in discussions with unnamed parties for a potential sale.

National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen says there’s “a strong likelihood” the deal will proceed because Air Canada’s offer is probably financially superior to other offers Transat may have reviewed, plus Air Canada brings operational synergies to the table.

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Independent airline analyst Rick Erickson says he doesn’t know of any domestic party that could afford to outbid Air Canada, pointing out that foreign ownership of any Canadian airline is limited to 49 per cent.

The deal provides for a break fee of $15 million payable by Transat if it accepts a superior offer.

“We believe another bidder is possible but unlikely,” said AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray in an email.

“You would have to find someone who meets the Canadian ownership rules, is willing to write a cheque of that magnitude and would be acceptable to all regulators .... As well, the Quebec government will be very sensitive to who the owner may be.

“Finally, they better know what they’re doing, otherwise we would see Transat in some trouble.”
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