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Spirit shareholder vote finally underway on Frontier deal clouded by rival JetBlue bid

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A Frontier Airlines plane near a Spirit Airlines plane on the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 16, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines shareholders were finally voting Wednesday on a planned tie-up with Frontier Airlines, a deal that has been on the rocks following a rival bid from JetBlue Airways this spring.

Spirit had postponed the vote 4 times because it struggled to assemble enough shareholder support for the Frontier merger, which the carriers first announced in February.

Frontier told Spirit earlier this month that its latest sweetened cash-and-stock offer was its “best and final” bid. But Spirit still lacks stockholder support for the deal, based on an individual accustomed to the matter.

The meeting began Wednesday morning and went into recess until 4 p.m. ET. Polls are open until 4:15 p.m. ET and the airline plans to announce results shortly afterward.

A rejection of the Frontier deal could be a blow to the discount carriers that planned to mix forces right into a budget behemoth and the country’s fifth-largest airline.

Spirit shareholders will vote only on the Spirit-Frontier transaction, and never on the rival bid by JetBlue, which spent weeks urging shareholders to show the Frontier deal down.

The vote could clear the way in which for Spirit to potentially strike a take care of JetBlue, which is in search of to purchase the budget airline outright and refurbish its planes in JetBlue style, featuring seatback screens and more legroom. Talks are ongoing, based on an individual accustomed to the negotiations, but it surely’s still possible they collapse.

Spirit’s board has repeatedly rebuffed JetBlue’s advances, arguing that it was unlikely that regulators would approve the deal.

It is feasible that neither deal gets done. Each transactions would face a high hurdle for the Justice Department’s blessing since the Biden administration has vowed to crack down on consolidation.

Executives for all three airlines said their preferred deal would help them grow quickly and higher compete with the highest 4 U.S. carriers — American, Delta, United and Southwest — which control about three-quarters of the domestic market.

Spirit, nevertheless, has raised concerns a few JetBlue takeover due to Latest York-based carrier’s alliance with American within the Northeast, a partnership the Justice Department last 12 months sued to undo.

Late last week, Frontier Airlines moved up its second-quarter earnings release and conference call to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after Spirit’s meeting. That they had been previously scheduled for Thursday.

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