Air Canada stock hits new high on news of exclusive talks to buy Transat AT

Transat shares rose about 15 per cent to $12.14 while Air Canada stock gained nearly three per cent to $40

Air Canada’s interest in buying rival Transat AT Inc. for about $520 million got positive feedback from industry watchers and stock traders after the two companies announced Thursday that they’re in exclusive talks to finalize a deal.

The two companies say Air Canada — the country’s largest airline — would pay a premium price of $13 per share for Transat, the Montreal-based owner of Air Transat and numerous vacation travel businesses.

After two hours of trading Thursday, Transat shares rose about 15 per cent to $12.14 while Air Canada stock gained nearly three per cent to $40, which is above the previous all-time high set Wednesday at $39.16.

McGill University professor Karl Moore said a combination of the two companies would help grow Air Canada Vacations, which competes with Transat, WestJet and others in the leisure travel market.

“Air Canada’s plan is to grow and this is part of their growth strategy,” Moore said in an interview.

“And I think Transat is going to be in better shape because of the potential of being bought by Air Canada.”

A deal that keeps Transat’s head office in Montreal would also be greeted favourably by politicians in Quebec, just as Alberta politicians said they want to see WestJet headquarters remain in Calgary if it’s bought by Onex, Moore said.

Toronto-based Onex Corp. announced Monday that it has a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. — Canada’s second-largest airline company — for about $3.5 billion, subject to approvals.

Moore said the level of competition that Air Canada faces from WestJet will increase with the financial resources of Onex.

READ MORE: Air Canada, WestJet expected to take financial hit from 737 Max 8 ban

“Who knows for sure, but my sense is that I’d be astonished if (that) deal doesn’t get approval and go forward,” Moore said.

Analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Dominion Securities writes in a note to clients that there are a number of factors that would justify a premium price for Transat stock.

For one thing, Spracklin said, an industry consolidation “improves fundamentals in a highly competitive leisure travel market.”

For another, the addition of Transat will provide Air Canada Vacations with a broader reach.

Additionally, Spracklin said that access to Transat’s fleet — and its in-place order for Airbus A321 passenger jets — would help Air Canada strengthen its Rouge discount brand.

“From a price paid, the multiple is on the higher end, reflecting the take-out premium; however justified by the strategic merits above,” Spracklin concluded.

Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said a combination with Transat represents a great opportunity for both companies.

“The acquisition presents a unique opportunity to compete with the very best in the world when it comes to leisure travel,” Rovinescu said in a statement.

Transat chief executive Jean-Marc Eustache said earlier Thursday that an Air Canada deal represents the best prospect for maintaining or growing the number of jobs that Transat has been developing in Quebec and elsewhere.

Transat offers vacation packages, hotel stays and air travel under the Transat and Air Transat brands, with a primary focus on the transatlantic market during the summer and sun destinations through the winter.

Transat first disclosed that it had held preliminary talks regarding the possible sale of the company last month, but did not name the potential bidders at that time.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Falkland senior still missing

RCMP are worried about Bjorn Collnes after his van was recovered in Westwold

Public feedback given at well-attended Okanagan Rail Trail event

Residents gave their feedback on design concepts for the trail’s northern expansion on Tuesday

Vernon’s two cents on Trudeau’s problematic photographs

73% of Vernon residents polled say Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell was ‘in the past’

‘I felt betrayed’: North-Okanagan Shuswap NDP candidate responds to Trudeau brownface photo

Harwinder Sandhu dismisses comments that there are bigger issues to focus on

Shuttle service moves into Vernon

Cheers Okanagan Tours has expanded its service to the Vernon area

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

B.C. Premier John Horgan worried about ‘rise of racism’

Asked to comment on Justin Trudeau’s ‘blackface’ incidents

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

B.C. Liberal leader says private sector development will help housing affordability

Andrew Wilkenson spoke in Kelowna during a real estate conference

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

Human case of West Nile virus reported on Vancouver Island

B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirmed case reported in August

Most Read