NW's Veto Power May Not Block CO/DL Deal!

Wed Feb 07, 2001 2:49 pm

Northwest's Veto Power May Not Block Continental Move (Correct)
By Lynne Marek
(Corrects Feb. 5 to remove references that Northwest may block a Continental purchase of Delta.)

New York, Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Northwest Airlines Corp.'s veto power over a sale of Continental Airlines Inc. to another carrier wouldn't necessarily prevent Continental from buying a rival such as Delta Air Lines Inc., a Northwest executive said.

If the Houston-based Continental were to grow through an acquisition, ``we would merely have an alliance relationship with a bigger Continental,'' Chief Financial Officer Mickey Foret said at a Goldman Sachs & Co. investor conference. Northwest has the power to veto a combination that dissolves ``the corporate entity of Continental,'' he said.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Continental, the fifth-largest U.S. airline, might try to buy No. 3 Delta to circumvent veto power left in place after regulators forced Northwest to divest a stake in Continental last year.

Looks like Gordon holds the cards after all, doesn't it!


RE: NW's Veto Power May Not Block CO/DL Deal!

Thu Feb 08, 2001 3:57 am

It might be a mute point as a DL/CO merger seems like only a threat. Check out some of Gordon's commnets today at the hearings.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune today urged the U.S.
government to stop the proposed mega-mergers of United Airlines/US Airways and American Airlines/US Airways/TWA/DC Air during his testimony before the Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee of the Judiciary.

Bethune testified that the mergers will harm customers, communities and airline employees. He said that customer service will nosedive if these four airlines consolidate into two super-carriers.

"Other airlines will be forced to combine, be carved up, or be put out of business by the onslaught brought on by the United and American cartel," said Bethune. "Additional airline mergers will be required to restore a competitive playing field to an airline industry that would otherwise be split by the United and American cartel."

After testifying, Bethune delivered a speech to the ATW Conference, presented by Air Transport World magazine, which recently named Continental "Airline of the Year."

"If you thought last summer was 'airline hell,' buckle your seatbelts, because with these pending mega-mergers, you haven't seen anything yet," said Bethune in his speech. "These mega-mergers will make last summer look likethe 'good old days.'"

In his Senate testimony, Bethune also said that other carriers, such as Continental, might be able to maintain a regional presence if the mergers went through, but would not be able to compete effectively on a national or global scale.

Bethune added that if the airline mergers are approved, Continental would require certain assets to continue to compete with United and American.

These assets include: appropriate slots and facilities at capacity-constrained airports, international route transfers, access to needed capital and re-evaluation of antitrust immunity already granted to the mega-carriers and their foreign partners.

Continental Airlines is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., offering more than 2,200 departures daily to 136 domestic and 92 international destinations. Operating hubs in Newark, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, Continental ( serves more international cities than any other U.S. carrier, including extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Continental was named the 2001 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World, as well as the 1996 Airline of the Year, making it the only carrier to receive this honor twice in five years. Continental is in the top quarter of FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America," and is ranked the nation's No. 1 airline in customer satisfaction for long and short-haul flights by Frequent Flyer Magazine and J.D. Power and Associates. Continental
has received numerous awards for its BusinessFirst premium cabin (Conde Nast Traveler, OAG, Entrepreneur and SmartMoney magazines), OnePass frequent flyer program (InsideFlyer's Freddie Awards) and overall operations and management (FORTUNE magazine).

SOURCE Continental Airlines, Inc.

So maybe Contidelta was a smokescreen after all!

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RE: NW's Veto Power May Not Block CO/DL Deal!

Thu Feb 08, 2001 5:25 am

As I stated in another thread - Bethune would really rather not take on additional debt and havoc of integrating with another carrier, but don't doubt for a second that he'd do it if he had to.

IMHO, rather than buying Delta, my bet is on DL and CO carving up NW. That way, CO gets out of under NW's thumb. Plus, there's no way that DL will want to lose their image and their status as an independent carrier.

NW has already shown that they can be bought, by trying to get AMR to raise their offer. Now, can CO/DL get the $$ needed to make this happen?
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RE: NW's Veto Power May Not Block CO/DL Deal!

Thu Feb 08, 2001 5:55 am

Hmm, now that would be an interesting scenario (DL and CO carving up NW).

If that happened, I wonder how they would split up the world's oldest fleet! DC-10-40s to CO and DC-9-30s to DL? I'm sure the 757s would go to DL, as they both have PW powered 757s. But how about the Airbuses and 747s?

Has anybody thought of NW/CO carving up Delta? Now that would be an interesting scenario!

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