US Airways makes merger offer to AMR

Updated 09 December 2012
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US Airways makes merger offer to AMR

NEW YORK: US Airways Group Inc. has made a formal merger proposal to American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and its creditors that could value the combined airline at around $ 8.5 billion, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Details of the proposal emerged as American Airlines pilots voted to ratify a new union contract on Friday, ending a years-long labor dispute and stabilizing the carrier as it tries to emerge from bankruptcy.
Under an all-stock merger that US Airways proposed in mid-November at a meeting with AMR's unsecured creditors committee, AMR creditors would own 70 percent of the merged company and US Airways shareholders 30 percent, the people said.
US Airways and AMR are negotiating toward a potential merger agreement that the smaller rival hopes could come as soon as January, one of the people added, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.
The combined AMR and US Airways could have a value similar to Delta Air Lines Inc., which has a market capitalization of around $ 8.5 billion, the person said.
At the same time, AMR is still pursuing a plan to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings as an independent airline, which will be compared against the merits of a merger with US Airways, the people said.
The companies have yet to narrow differences on a number of significant issues before any deal could be agreed, including how much of the combined carrier each side should own, the people said.
AMR creditors think they should get an equity stake of closer to 80 percent in a merged entity, rather than the 70 percent proposed by US Airways, the people said. AMR and US Airways also disagree on potential cost and revenue benefits from a merger as well as labor integration challenges, they added.
In a note to American Airlines workers, AMR CEO Tom Horton said the company is weighing whether a merger could "create value for our owners and a positive outcome for our people and our customers. We expect to have a conclusion on this soon."
Representatives of US Airways and the creditors committee declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported details of US Airways' proposal earlier on Friday.
The new labor contract, approved by nearly three-quarters of the AMR pilots who voted, gives the Allied Pilots' Association a 13.5 percent equity stake in AMR and offers what the union sees as a path to "industry-standard" pay, union spokesman Dennis Tajer told Reuters.
AMR filed for bankruptcy in November 2011, primarily due to high labor costs, and said it needed to cut those costs by $1 billion a year. It achieved concessions from its ground workers and flight attendants but remained at odds with pilots in bitter labor talks that date to 2006.
AMR creditors had deemed labor peace a major priority, saying uncertainty over contracts could make it difficult for creditors and potential investors to assess the company's post-bankruptcy viability.
Friday's vote could be seen as addressing that concern and providing AMR a clearer path toward exiting Chapter 11.
The pilots had been working under strict labor terms imposed unilaterally by AMR as part of its bankruptcy process while negotiations dragged on. The pilots struck down a previous contract offer in August, which at the time AMR had framed as its "last, best" offer.
How the company will look when it exits bankruptcy is still unclear. The pilots' union says it has lost faith in AMR management, led by Horton, and strongly supports a US Airways takeover.
"This ratified agreement should not in any way be viewed as support for the American standalone plan or for this current management team," Tajer said. "This contract represents a bridge to a merger with US Airways."
At least one large group of bondholders, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Pentwater Capital Management and York Capital Management, has expressed interest in providing an equity infusion to fund AMR as a standalone entity.
The group was strengthened recently when other significant stakeholders, including Marathon Asset Management, joined forces with it, according to court papers filed by the group on Thursday.


Saudi insurance stocks soar as female drivers take to the road

Saudi Majdoleen Mohammed Alateeq, a newly licensed Saudi driver, gets out of her car in Riyadh on Sunday. The insurance sector is just one segment of the economy set to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on women drivers in the Kingdom. AFP
Updated 25 June 2018
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Saudi insurance stocks soar as female drivers take to the road

LONDON: Saudi insurance stocks surged on Sunday, with investors expecting the sector to reap significant dividends following the lifting of the ban on female drivers.
Insurance stocks — one of the worst performing sectors on the Saudi bourse for the year to date — outperformed other classifications on Sunday, ending 2.4 percent higher, compared with a 1.8 percent rise for the Kingdom’s headline index.
Amana Insurance and AlRajhi Takaful were the best performers of the day, gaining 9.9 percent each. Tawuniya, the Kingdom’s largest insurer, ended Sunday 1.1 percent higher, with only one of the country’s 33 listed insurance providers closing lower for the day.
The lifting of restrictions on female drivers — which came into effect on Sunday after first being announced in September — is part of a series of wide-ranging reforms introduced as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic transformation program, designed to diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil revenues.
The advent of women drivers is forecast to benefit the economy by significantly increase female participation in the workforce, and stimulating financial, insurance and retail sectors among others.
The insurance sector is set to draw particular benefit from the move, but may remain under pressure, according to rating agency S&P.
“We anticipate that efforts of the local authorities to tackle the large number of uninsured drivers, combined with the arrival of women drivers … and the introduction of additional benefits under the unified medical policy from July 1, will support further premium growth in the industry in the medium term,” said S&P in a research note in April.
“However, these factors may be offset by the large number of foreign workers that have already left or will be leaving the Kingdom in 2018.”
In spite of yesterday’s price surge, insurance stocks are 8.4 percent lower for the year to date. Tadawul as a whole is up 15.6 percent so far this year, making the bourse one of the world’s best performers for 2018.
Investor sentiment on Sunday was also boosted by investor optimism after index provider MSCI announced last week that it would upgrade Saudi stocks to its Emerging Markets Index from next year.
The widely anticipated upgrade — which puts Saudi equities on an index tracked by around $2 trillion worth of global assets — is expected to attract up to $40 billion of international funds, Tadawul CEO Khalid Al-Hussan told Arab News last week.
MSCI’s upgrade came after a similar move by fellow index provider FTSE Russell in February, which is also scheduled to come into effect from next year.
Banks were among the other bright performers on Tadawul on Sunday. Arab National Bank led gains, closing up 4.2 percent, while blue-chip names NCB and AlRajhi rose 1.6 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.
Some petrochemical companies also added value, Reuters reported, following a rise in oil prices after OPEC decided on only modest increases in crude production last week.
Outside Saudi Arabia, Gulf markets posted minor gains. In Dubai, where the index was flat, Air Arabia was unchanged. Shares in the airline have declined by more than 10 percent since early last week, when the company said it had hired experts to protect its business interests in private equity firm Abraaj, which has filed for provisional liquidation. The airline said its exposure was around $336 million.
Last week, the UAE’s securities regulator asked listed companies to declare their exposure to Abraaj.