Prepare For Takeoff
Spirit Airlines shareholders have approved a $3.8 billion takeover by JetBlue Airways, in a deal that looks primed to create the fifth-largest airline in the United States.
Spirit made the announcement in a Wednesday press release, with more than 50 percent of the stock owners voting to approve the deal. The merger must now go through the final regulatory steps, and Spirit said they expect the transaction to close "no later than the first half of 2024."
JetBlue first made the multi-billion, total-cash offer for Spirit earlier this year, and the two came to a preliminary agreement in July following a series of hostile negotiations. Spirit was also in talks to merge with Frontier Airlines in a cash-and-stock deal that fell apart following JetBlue's offer.
JetBlue is planning to eliminate the Spirit brand following the takeover, CNBC reported, with the outlet noting how Spirit's low-cost airfares and minimal frills contrast with JetBlue's higher-end service and business-class offerings. JetBlue is reportedly planning to retrofit Spirit's planes to more closely resemble its own.
However, the transaction is likely to face heavy scrutiny from antitrust regulators. The Biden administration has argued against these types of megadeals, saying they are harmful to consumer spending. Biden and his legal team have made significant efforts to try and tone down corporate mergers, though they've often had little success in court.
JetBlue and Spirit have denied breaking any antitrust laws, and said they look forward to continuing their work with federal regulators.