JetBlue launches hostile takeover bid for Spirit Airlines

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(Reuters) – JetBlue Airways Corp on Monday commenced a hostile all-cash takeover bid for Spirit Airlines Inc, days after the discount carrier rejected an offer from the larger rival.

JetBlue, which had earlier offered $33 per share, is locked in a takeover battle for Spirit with Frontier Group Holdings and has argued a deal will help better compete with the “Big Four” U.S. airlines that control nearly 80% of the passenger market.

In a letter to Spirit shareholders on Monday, JetBlue offered $30 per share and said it was ready to “negotiate in good faith a consensual transaction at $33, subject to receiving necessary diligence”.

Spirit rejected the earlier offer, saying it had a low likelihood of winning approval from regulators.

JetBlue said on Monday it had filed a “Vote No” proxy statement urging Spirit shareholders to vote against the planned merger with Frontier, which has offered $21.66 in cash and stock for each share of the discount carrier.

Shares of Spirit rose more than 19% to $20.28 in premarket trading.

Frontier and Spirit did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Spirit is scheduled to hold a shareholder meeting on June 10 to vote on its proposed merger with Frontier.

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