Spirit Airlines postpones shareholder vote on Frontier deal days after JetBlue sweetens competing offer

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A JetBlue Airlines plane takes off near Spirit Airlines planes at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 16, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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Spirit Airlines is postponing its shareholder meeting, previously scheduled for Friday, until June 30 so it can continue deal talks with Frontier Airlines and JetBlue Airways, and with its stockholders, the carrier said Wednesday.

Spirit’s announcement came two days after JetBlue sweetened its offer for the discount airline, which has had a merger agreement in place with fellow budget carrier Frontier since February.

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Frontier and JetBlue both say they see Spirit Airlines as key to their future growth. Either combination would create the fifth-largest airline in the U.S.

Spirit has repeatedly rebuffed JetBlue’s offers and said that an acquisition would be unlikely to pass muster with regulators, while JetBlue has argued both deals would face scrutiny from the Justice Department. JetBlue had previously offered to divest Spirit’s assets in New York and some in Florida to make the deal more palatable for regulators.

JetBlue on Monday raised its offer for a reverse breakup to $350 million if the Justice Department were to block its purchase of Spirit. Frontier last week offered a $250 million reverse breakup fee if that deal is knocked down.

Spirit shareholders were due to vote on the cash-and-stock Frontier deal on Friday. JetBlue urged Spirit stockholders to reject that merger.

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis last week recommended shareholders vote in favor of the Frontier deal while another firm, ISS, said they should reject it.

Spirit shares were down 1% in premarket trading Wednesday, while JetBlue’s were up slightly and Frontier’s were unchanged.

JetBlue and Frontier didn’t immediately return request for comment.

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