Quebec businessman and former politician Pierre Karl Péladeau said on Monday he will vote against Air Canada’s offer to buy tour operator Transat A.T. Inc., and would consider making a separate offer with partners if the deal fails.
Shareholders of the tour operator, which runs leisure carrier Air Transat, decide on Friday whether to back Air Canada’s $720-million, or $18 a share, offer. The deal still requires regulatory approval.
Mr. Péladeau, who owns a 1.6-per-cent stake in Transat, is the CEO of Quebecor Inc., but the media company is not involved in the matter.
Air Canada has locked up support from the tour operator’s largest shareholder Letko Brosseau and analysts largely expect the deal will be approved by a requisite two-thirds of Transat shareholders.
But Mr. Péladeau’s comments could encourage some jittery investors to “hold through the closing as opposed to selling” the stock, given the deal’s need for regulatory approval, one Transat shareholder said on condition of anonymity.
Montreal newspaper La Presse reported last week that Mr. Péladeau was holding talks with carriers Air France-KLM SA and WestJet Airlines Ltd. over a possible bid for Transat. An Air France spokesman and a WestJet spokeswoman declined to comment.
Mr. Péladeau said on Monday that he was working with “solid partners” to come up with a potential purchase offer of Air Transat that would keep the carrier competitive, if Air Canada’s deal failed. He did not name the partners.
The Air Canada deal, which gives Transat a 60-per-cent market share of select transatlantic routes to and from Canada, would require approvals from domestic and European regulators.
In a statement, Mr. Péladeau said he would vote against Air Canada’s offer because it goes against the “best interests” of Transat and “Quebec consumers,” and poses regulatory concerns. Mr. Péladeau, a former Quebec provincial opposition party leader, said he was speaking strictly as a shareholder in the company.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.