Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

Airline merger may be near

NEW YORK — The boards of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and US Airways Group are prepared to vote on a merger on Monday as executives and advisers work on final terms this weekend, people familiar with the matter have said.

The sides have agreed that AMR's bankruptcy creditors would get 72 percent of the equity in the new carrier, with 28 percent for US Airways shareholders, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified by Bloomberg News because the talks are private. US Airways chief executive officer Doug Parker will run the airline, as AMR's CEO, Tom Horton, becomes nonexecutive chairman, the people said.

Horton's tenure in that post is still being negotiated, and will be limited to one or two years, one of the people said. AMR's bankruptcy creditors committee is poised for a vote early next week on any merger accord, with an announcement as soon as Tuesday, two people said.

Leadership and the division of the equity had been the final major issues in the discussions, people familiar with the talks have said. A tieup between American, the third-largest U.S. airline, and No. 5 US Airways would create the world's biggest carrier by passenger traffic.

American declined to comment on the deliberations, said Mike Trevino, a spokesman for the Fort Worth, Texas, carrier. Kelly Sullivan, a US Airways spokeswoman who works for public relations firm Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, also declined to comment.

Jack Butler, an attorney for the creditors committee, didn't respond to an email or phone call seeking comment.

Besides the split of equity between AMR creditors and US Airways investors, the proposed merger calls for existing AMR stockholders to get shares in the combined company, two of the people said, with details of that plan still being negotiated.

A group of AMR bondholders with about $1.5 billion in unsecured debt said last month it was backing a merger and pushing for an agreement by mid February. The bondholders concluded after reviewing confidential data that a merger would provide more cost savings and other financial benefits than a stand-alone American, one person said.

US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., began pursuing a merger in January 2012, less than two months after AMR's bankruptcy filing on Nov. 29, 2011.

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