JetBlue Airways launches hostile takeover bid for Spirit Airlines

JetBlue Airways Corp launched a hostile all-cash acquisition bid for Spirit Airlines Inc on Monday, two weeks after the cheap carrier turned down a larger rival's offer.

JetBlue, which offered USD33 per share in early April, is in a takeover war with Frontier Group Holdings for Spirit, claiming that a merger will help it better compete with the "Big Four" US airlines, who dominate about  80% of the passenger market. JetBlue proposed USD30 a share in a letter to Spirit shareholders on Monday, saying it was willing to "discuss in good faith a consensual transaction at USD33 subject to receiving sufficient diligence."

Spirit turned down the prior bid, claiming it had a slim chance of getting regulatory approval. JetBlue announced on Monday that it has filed a "Vote No" proxy statement encouraging Spirit shareholders to vote against the planned merger with Frontier, which was valued at USD18.81 per share in cash and stock on Friday.

Reacting to the development, Spirit's stock jumped more than 17% to USD19.90 in premarket trading. Frontier and Spirit did not immediately reply to Reuters' requests for comment. JetBlue shares were down 1.5 percent.

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