Qantas Rejects Takeover Offer

SYDNEY ~ Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways has rejected a multibillion-dollar takeover bid from a private equity consortium.

“The non-executive directors consider that the terms of the proposal are not acceptable,” Qantas said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Qantas said the offer had come from a consortium comprising Australia’s biggest investment bank Macquarie, US-based private equity firm Texas Pacific Group, Australia’s Allco Equity Partners, Allco Finance Partners and Canadian group Onex.

It was pitched at AUS$5.50 a share, valuing Qantas at about $11 billion (US$8.6 billion).

The deal had been rumored since November, when Qantas confirmed receiving a takeover proposal for the profitable airline, which is subject to a 49-percent ceiling for foreign ownership.

Qantas said last month it had received a preliminary takeover approach from the consortium.

Its brief statement to the market contained few details of the proposal.

“The proposed offer price is $5.50 per share and incorporates a number of complex conditions, the requirement for unanimous support by Qantas directors and a break fee,” the airline said.

Trading in Qantas shares was temporarily halted while the announcement was made.

The $5.50–a-share offer had been widely anticipated by the market and is considered an opening gambit, with speculation that the deal could eventually rise to $6 a share.

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