WestJet CEO feeling 'relief and satisfaction' after Onex deal greenlit
WestJet Airlines Ltd. CEO Ed Sims is pleased his company will no longer have to be accountable to the public markets.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s a sense of quiet relief and satisfaction around WestJet’s headquarters this morning,” Sims said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Wednesday.
His comments come after the airline’s takeover by Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corporation cleared the last hurdle. The deal, valued at approximately $5 billion including assumed debt, received final regulatory approval by the Canadian Transportation Agency.
The takeover will see WestJet become a private company after about two decades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The airline’s common shares will be delisted within a matter of a few trading days, Onex said in the statement.
Sims said that the advantage for the company of going private is two-fold.
“Number one, we can be longer-term in our planning and number two, we get the luxury now of being able to plan in private, not being accountable to quarterly sell-side analysts,” he said.
“It’s like being a market gardener where you keep pulling the carrots up by its roots to see if it’s growing every three months. We don’t have to go through that process now.”
Under the terms of the deal, WestJet shareholders are entitled to receive $31 in cash per share.
Some former WestJet shareholders will not receive the quarterly dividend to be paid at the end of this month since the deal closed before Dec. 18, Onex said.
The regulator determined Tuesday that the Calgary-based airline and its discount subsidiary Swoop will continue to meet Canadian ownership and control requirements, if Onex amends its bylaws to ensure any matters voted on by the board of directors are done with a majority of Canadian directors present.
- With files from The Canadian Press