Qantas Airways Limited, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Qantas Longreach Pty Limited, today announced its intention to bid for all of the shares in New South Wales regional airline Hazelton Airlines Limited.
Chief Executive, James Strong, said Qantas will make a cash offer of $1.20 to the shareholders of Hazelton Airlines Limited in an off-market takeover bid.
“The Qantas offer is a 33 percent increase on the price offered by the Air New Zealand-owned Ansett Holdings Limited of $0.90 per share. It is also higher than the price at which Hazelton shares have traded on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) any time since November 1996,” he said.
Mr Strong said a successful bid for Hazelton would, over time, give regional Australia better access to the established domestic and international route network of Qantas.
“Over its 80 years of operation, Qantas, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Airlink, Eastern Australia Airlines, Southern Australia Airlines and Sunstate, has built a strong tradition of service to regional Australia. The Qantas network extends across every state and mainland territory providing connections to more than 55 Australian destinations and 34 other countries,” he said.
Hazelton Chairman, Stan Quinlivan, said the Hazelton Board endorsed the Qantas offer as representing good value for Hazelton shareholders. “Importantly, the bid will contain a 51 percent minimum acceptance condition,” he said. “The Board recommends the Qantas offer in the absence of a higher offer and subject to the Board being satisfied with the Qantas Bidder`s statement.
“If the bid is successful, we see the potential to develop a strong business relationship with Qantas having regard to Hazelton`s existing commercial arrangements,” he said.
Mr Strong said Qantas has a relevant interest in 20 percent of Hazelton shares as the result of an agreement with the airline`s largest shareholder, Skippers Aviation Pty Ltd, of which Mr Quinlivan is a principal.
The Qantas offer for Hazelton shares will be subject to relevant regulatory approvals and a number of conditions, which were lodged with the ASX today.
The Qantas Bidder`s Statement will be provided to Hazelton and lodged with the ASX and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shortly.