General aviation

Westjet shareholders approve Onex takeover

A Westjet Boeing 737-800 lands at Vancouver International Airport in June (photo: Brett Ballah).

Westjet’s takeover by Onex Corporation has taken a giant leap forward, with shareholders voting more than 92% in favour of a sale. The vote was held at a special meeting of shareholders Tuesday in Calgary.

“We are very pleased to obtain overwhelming support from our securityholders at today’s special meeting,” said Ed Sims, Westjet’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Receiving this support is an important step on our path to closing the transaction, and we continue to engage with the necessary authorities on the remaining approvals.”

The results of the vote are not surprising, given Westjet’s board has campaigned hard in favour of the deal, and hired a pair of independent firms who advised approval.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has already decided he will not launch a public interest review of the purchase. It is, however, still subject to approval by an Alberta Court, and review by the Competition Bureau.

Final approval is expected by the end of 2019, by which time Onex plans to take Westjet private. Sims has said the Onex deal will mean long-term stability for the airline, including its Swoop subsidiary, without the need to produce short-term results to keep shareholders happy.

At the same time, as a private company, Westjet will be able to hold its cards close to its chest, and not need to telegraph its strategies to competitors.