Spirit delays vote on Frontier deal for a third time amid bidding war with JetBlue

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A Frontier Airlines plane near a Spirit Airlines plane at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 16, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines is again delaying a shareholder vote set for Friday on its deal to merge with Frontier Airlines, a win for competing suitor JetBlue Airways, which wants to buy Spirit outright.

It is the third time Spirit has postponed the vote, which was originally scheduled for June 10. It was later pushed to June 28, but Spirit had delayed it until July 8 last week, a day before the vote.

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Spirit said Thursday it would now hold the vote on July 15 so it could continue deal talks with both airlines.

The delays bode well for JetBlue Airways, which swooped in with a $3.6 billion all-cash offer to buy Spirit in April. Two months earlier, Frontier and Spirit announced a $2.9 billion cash-and-stock deal to combine into a discount behemoth.

“We are encouraged by our discussions with Spirit and are hopeful they now recognize that Spirit shareholders have indicated their clear, overwhelming preference for an agreement with JetBlue,” JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement after the latest delay.

Spirit’s board repeatedly rejected JetBlue’s offers, including sweetened proposals, arguing it didn’t think regulators would sign off on the deal. JetBlue said both deals would face regulatory scrutiny, and Hayes said that Spirit’s board didn’t give JetBlue’s offers full consideration.

It wasn’t clear if Spirit would have the shareholder support it needed to get the Frontier deal passed ahead of the last scheduled meeting, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Frontier, which also sweetened its offer for Spirit, nearly doubling the cash portion to $4.13 a share, didn’t immediately comment on the latest vote delay.

Spirit shares were up 2% in afterhours trading, while Frontier shares were down less than 1%. JetBlue was little changed.

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