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Spirit postpones vote on Frontier deal, to continue talks with Frontier and JetBlue

July 7 (Reuters) – Spirit Airlines Inc (SAVE.N) said it had postponed Friday’s scheduled shareholder vote on its $2.4 billion sale to Frontier Group Holdings Inc (ULCC.O) so that its board of directors administration can continue discussions with Frontier and JetBlue. Airway.

Reuters first reported the expected delay.

In recent months, JetBlue and Frontier, led by influential airline investor Bill Franke, have repeatedly upped their bids for Spirit, seeking to create America’s fifth-largest airline.

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Spirit’s shareholder vote, which was delayed twice before, is being pushed back a third time to give Spirit and JetBlue time to finalize a deal, sources told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the discussions are confidential.

Spirit said he now plans to hold a special meeting on July 15.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement that the airline was “encouraged by our discussions with Spirit and hopes it will now recognize that Spirit shareholders have indicated their clear and overwhelming preference for an agreement with JetBlue.” .

JetBlue submitted a $3.7 billion cash offer last month, but Spirit was reluctant to accept JetBlue’s much more financially attractive offer, fearing antitrust regulators would reject it, the sources said.

JetBlue is already facing a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice over its partnership with American Airlines (AAL.O) in the New York and Boston areas.

There is no certainty that JetBlue will provide Spirit with the necessary regulatory assurances to reach an agreement and Frontier, which has already improved its offer, could return with a new offer, the sources added.

The Frontier deal is also expected to come under antitrust scrutiny. But Spirit and some analysts say this deal has a better chance of being approved by regulators.

Both bidders view Spirit as an opportunity to expand their national footprint and reshape the US airline industry, which is largely dominated by four national carriers. An acquisition by either bidder would come at a time when the industry is currently struggling with labor and aircraft shortages.

Last week, Spirit was forced to postpone the shareholder vote until July 8. The sources said he did not have enough shareholders to back the Frontier deal at the time.

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Reporting by Anirban Sen and Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York and David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis, Bill Berkrot and Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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