Continental Airlines and United Airlines reportedly agreed to merge in a stock swap deal, valued at more than USD3 billion, to create the world’s largest carrier carrying 21% of all US air passengers (Bloomberg/Houston Business Journal/Denver Business Journal, 02-May-2010). United is expected to swap 1.05 shares for each Continental share. The combined carrier would be based in Chicago with Continental CEO, Jeff Smisek, as CEO and United’s Glenn Tilton as Chairman. The carrier would operate under the United Airlines brand. Most of the merger groundwork was already in place from previous merger discussions in 2008 which Continental walked away from in favour of joining the Star Alliance (Reuters, 15-Apr-2010). United was previously in merger talks with US Airways until 23-Apr-2010.
Continental Airlines and United Airlines merge in USD3bn stock swap deal
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Avianca Airline Group seeks investors to maintain position in a changing Latin American landscape
The decision to merge by Avianca and Grupo TACA in 2009 is what kickstarted consolidation in Latin America. The merger of the two companies, now operating as Avianca Holdings, arguably triggered the combination of LAN and TAM to create LATAM – the region’s most powerful grouping of airlines.
As Avianca and TACA and LAN and TAM were integrating their respective operations, other South American airlines garnered investment from foreign airlines – SkyTeam partners Air France-KLM and Delta invested in the independent Gol, and United and HNA Group took stakes in Azul.
Now Avianca is seeking a strategic investing partner, and many airlines are reportedly interested in obtaining a stake in the company. The investment will allow Avianca to weather difficult near term economic conditions and remain on equal footing with its competitors, while the company’s suitor obtains strategic positioning in one of most important growth markets – Latin America – for the next decade and beyond.
Aeromexico and Delta JV: major uncertainty reigns after the DoT hits hard with slot divestitures
A transborder joint venture between SkyTeam partners Aeromexico and Delta is hanging in the balance now that the US DoT has required slot divestitures and other stipulations in order for the airlines to move forward with their proposed business agreement. Not surprisingly, Aeromexico and Delta believe limitations proposed by US regulators would diminish the economic benefits of the joint venture, and are warning they are reconsidering deepening their business ties.
Numerous airlines expressed concerns about Aeromexico and Delta’s concentration of slots at Mexico City Juarez, and the DoT responded by requiring slot divestitures at the airport along with the relinquishment of slots at New York JFK. The airlines have countered that the DoT’s analysis is flawed, and that a smaller number of slot divestitures at Juarez required by Mexico’s government should allay any concerns expressed by competitors. Aeromexico and Delta also argue another stipulation imposed by US regulators – limiting the joint venture to a five-year term – would create too much uncertainty for the viability of the business venture.
Delta’s plans to take its stake in Aeromexico up to 49% was contingent on the JV proposal succeeding. But with the stipulations imposed by DoT in order for the partners to establish their joint venture a dark cloud of uncertainty is hovering over Aeromexico’s future ownership structure.