Canada's Transat Inc. opens talks with prospective buyers

Transat Inc., the parent firm of Canadian leisure specialist Air Transat (TS, Montréal Trudeau), has confirmed it is in early talks with more than one party concerning a potential buy out. The firm said in a stock market disclosure that that it had garnered expressions of interest from more than one party. Therefore, Transat Inc has now set up a special committee of independent directors who, with the assistance of financial and legal advisors, will now thoroughly scrutinise the offers and make recommendations to the Board of Directors in the best interests of the Corporation and all its stakeholders. "The discussions are at a preliminary stage," it said. "No decision has been made as to any potential transaction." Based in Montreal, Transat Inc. is an integrated international tourism company specialising in holiday travel. It offers vacation packages, hotel stays and air travel under the Transat and Air Transat brands to some 60 destinations in more than 25 countries across the Americas and Europe. The company employs around 5,000 staff. Air Transat’s own fleet consists of six A310-300s, seven A321ceo, sixteen A330-200s, four -300s, one B737-700, and nine B737-800s (of which two are wet-leased from Smartwings (Czechia)). It will also lease a total of fifteen A321neo(LR)s from AerCap. Transat Inc.'s largest shareholder is Montreal-based investment firm Letko Brosseau & Associates, Inc, which owns 18.14% of the company. Others include the Quebec Federation of Labour's Solidarity Fund with 11.58% and the Caisse provincial pension plan which owns a 5.84% stake. In order to protect local jobs, the Quebec government has pledged to use public funds to ensure that Air Transat remains in Quebec hands. "(We must) do everything to keep the headquarters in Quebec," Prime Minister François Legault, who co-founded the company in 1987, was quoted by CBC. Quebec's Economic Minister, Pierre Fitzgibbon, added that while the government would financially assist Quebecers who are interested in acquiring the tour operator, it itself would not be buying Air Transat. It is recalled that under Canadian effective control laws, citizens and local firms must hold at least 51% of a Canadian-flagged carrier's shareholding and must also control its voting stock. 

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