WestJet agrees to be sold in $5B deal, including debt

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CALGARY — Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction it valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Onex will pay $31 per share for WestJet, which will continue to operate as a privately held company.

WestJet (Richmond News file photo)

Shares in the airline closed at $18.52 on Friday.

WestJet founder and chairman Clive Beddoe said Onex is an ideal partner for the airline.

“I am particularly pleased that WestJet will remain headquartered in Calgary and will continue to build on the success that our 14,000 WestJetters have created,” Beddoe said in a statement.

The deal comes after Onex approached the airline in March.

“WestJet is one of Canada’s strongest brands and we have tremendous respect for the business that Clive Beddoe and all WestJetters have built over the years,” said Tawfiq Popatia, a managing director at Onex.

Completion of the transaction is subject to a number of conditions, including court, regulatory and shareholder approvals.

WestJet’s board of directors has unanimously recommended shareholders vote in favour of the deal at meeting expected to be held in July.

The deal is expected to close in the latter part of 2019 or early 2020.

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