Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in an all-cash transaction it valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt.
Under the agreement announced Monday, Onex will pay $31 per share for WestJet, which will operate as a privately held company.
The price represents about a 67 per cent premium to the shares, which closed at $18.52 on Friday. Shares in the airline surged Monday as much 63.3 per cent to $30.24 — highest since March 2015.
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, a Toronto-based private equity firm, 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.
In the past six years, WestJet has created both regional and budget airlines — WestJet Encore and Swoop — and set its sights on long-haul routes with an order for 10 Boeing 787 jetliners set for delivery before 2022, receiving the first one earlier this year…