BA to Merge with Iberia

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  viking01 13 Nov 2009
at 10:49

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  • Anonymous


    See FT

    BA manages to keep control despite pension deficit. Sombreros all round….

    Will the BA unions be less disposed to change now there are synergies? mmm. Over to Vintage Krug/BT for proper analysis

    Tom Otley

    Here’s the press release:


    British Airways’ and Iberia’s boards have today agreed a binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) setting out the basis for a proposed merger of the two companies to create a new, leading European airline group that recognises the principle of parity at board and management level.

    The new airline group would have 419 aircraft and fly to 205 destinations. In 2008, British Airways and Iberia carried 62 million passengers and, in their last financial years, their joint revenues are approximately € 15 billion.

    The airlines believe there is a compelling strategic rationale for the transaction, which is expected to generate annual synergies of approximately €400 million, and benefit both companies’ shareholders, customers and employees. The new group will combine the two companies’ leading positions in the UK and Spain and enhance their strong presence in the international longhaul markets, while retaining the individual brands and current operations of each airline.

    The merger is expected to be completed in late 2010.

    Principal terms of the proposed merger

    The proposed merger will result in the creation of a new holding company (TopCo) that will own both the existing airlines and whose shareholders will be the current British Airways and Iberia shareholders. Under the terms of the proposed merger, British Airways shareholders will receive one new ordinary share in TopCo for every existing British Airways ordinary share held by them and Iberia shareholders will receive 1.0205 new ordinary shares for every existing Iberia ordinary share held by them. On the basis of this exchange ratio, and after cancellation of the treasury shares held by Iberia and prior to the cancellation of the cross-shareholdings held by British Airways and Iberia in each other, British Airways shareholders will hold 55 per cent of TopCo and Iberia’s shareholders will hold 45 per cent.

    TopCo will be a Spanish incorporated company registered in Madrid, Spain. The majority of board meeting and all shareholders meetings will take place in Madrid. As at completion of the merger, TopCo will be tax resident in Spain. The operating and financial headquarters of the combined group will be located in London, which shall contain the principal management functions of the combined group. A further management office will be located in Madrid.

    The TopCo board will comprise 14 directors with seven designated by each airline.

    Antonio Vázquez, Chairman and CEO of Iberia, said: “It has been a long process where many people, both at British Airways and Iberia, have worked very hard to reach this agreement. But in the end it was worth it. This agreement is a giant step in the history of both Iberia and British Airways. We are laying the foundations of what will be one of the most important airlines in the world, a real global airline. I believe that, thanks to this transaction, which is the most important in the European airline industry in recent years, we are more prepared than ever to face future challenges.“

    Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: “The merger will create a strong European airline well able to compete in the 21st century. Both airlines will retain their brands and heritage while achieving significant synergies as a combined force.”

    Benefits of the proposed merger

    The British Airways and Iberia boards believe that the principal benefits of the merger include:

    Significant customer benefits

    Enhanced customer benefits with a larger combined network for passengers and cargo and continued investment in new customer products and services.

    The combined group will offer its customers connections to 205 destinations and strengthen the oneworld alliance. British Airways’ customers will gain access to up to 59 new destinations, of which 13 will be in Latin America, while Iberia’s customers will gain up to 98 new destinations across the British Airways network. They will also be offered better frequencies and connections, more competitive prices, access to more VIP lounges and enhanced frequent flyer benefits.

    Improved strategic position within the global aviation sector
    Highly complementary network fit worldwide, in particular combining British Airways’ strong presence in North America, Asia-Pacific and Africa with Iberia’s strong Latin American presence.

    Greater potential for future growth by optimising the dual hubs of London and Madrid.

    Enhanced scale and ability to compete with other major airlines and participate in future industry consolidation.

    Significant synergy potential

    Annual synergies of approximately €400m at budgeted exchange rates are expected by the end of the fifth year after the completion of the merger at a cash cost of up to €350m. The synergies will be incremental to the existing value from the airlines’ joint business between the UK and Spain. Approximately one third of the synergies are expected to be revenue related (joint selling, network and revenue management benefits) with the balance coming from cost synergies in areas such as IT, fleet, maintenance and back office functions.

    Strong group management team to maximize the combined group’s earnings potential and deliver synergy benefits while maintaining localised operational focus and accountability.

    Group structure and governance
    TopCo will have its primary listing on the Official List of the UK Listing Authority and its ordinary shares will be traded on the main market of the London Stock Exchange and included in FTSE’s UK Index Series. It will comply with the Combined Code and the Pre-Emption Guidelines of the Association of British Insurers and, to the extent that it is legally able to do so, the UK City Code on Takeovers and Mergers. If possible, TopCo will also have a secondary listing in the Spanish Stock Exchanges (Mercado Continuo español). If there is no such secondary listing, the regulation of takeovers in respect of TopCo will be subject to split jurisdiction between the UK Takeover Panel and Spanish Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (“CNMV”) otherwise, the CNMV will regulate takeover activity in respect of TopCo.

    The TopCo Board will comprise 14 directors, including the group CEO and the CEOs of both OpCos and 11 non executive directors. Antonio Vázquez will be group chairman and Martin Broughton will be deputy group chairman. British Airways and Iberia will each designate three non-executive directors to the TopCo Board (of which one will be Martin Broughton) and four new independent directors will be appointed.

    Operating Companies (Iberia and British Airways)

    An ownership and governance structure (“National Control Structure”) has been developed to ensure that the existing route licences and traffic rights of both British Airways and Iberia are retained. For the first five years following completion of the transaction, the majority of the voting shares in British Airways and Iberia will be owned by special UK and Spanish bodies respectively (“National Bodies”). These shares will have minimal economic rights.

    The National Bodies will be represented on the respective OpCo boards where their role will be to protect existing route licences and traffic rights and to ensure compliance with the Assurances (as defined below). The bodies will enter into shareholder agreements with TopCo to ensure that TopCo can manage the combined group as a single economic entity.

    The British Airways and Iberia OpCos will retain profit and loss accountability and will implement a joint business plan and synergy plan to be developed by the group management team. Each operating company will retain its respective Air Operators Certificate and remain responsible for its own day to day commercial and operational management.

    Each OpCo will have a board comprising nine directors, of whom five will be executives (including both OpCo CEOs and the group CFO). Antonio Vázquez will remain chairman of the Iberia OpCo board and Martin Broughton will also remain chairman of the British Airways OpCo board. Three non-executive directors will be appointed by the respective UK and Spanish National Bodies under the National Control Structure. The decisions of the OpCo boards will be made by simple majority, except for matters which, if effected, would be contrary to the Assurances, which will require the approval of at least seven directors.

    Group management

    The combined business will be led by the group CEO, Willie Walsh, and a management team chosen equally from each airline. It will comprise of the group chief executive officer and group chief financial officer, the chief executives of the each airline (OpCo), a revenue synergies officer and a cost synergies officer. The group management team will be responsible for the overall direction and strategy of the combined business, delivery of synergies and co-ordination of central functions.

    The group management team will initially comprise:
    Willie Walsh, Group CEO
    Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, CEO of Iberia OpCo
    Keith Willliams, CEO of British Airways OpCo
    Enrique Dupuy De Lôme, Group CFO
    Robert Boyle, Revenue Synergies Officer
    José Maria Fariza, Cost Synergies Officer

    To protect the specific interests of British Airways and Iberia and their respective stakeholders both parties will agree to give certain Assurances (“Assurances”) that will last for five years from completion of the merger. The Assurances include:
    Both airlines to keep their main base in their home country with their own licenses, certificates, codes and brands.
    Slot and destinations will be protected for the benefit of the combined group.

    The group’s network strategy will be developed in a way that reflects the importance of both London and Madrid hubs.

    There will be a balanced long-term development of the networks served from each of the Madrid and London hubs and there will be a reasonable division of opportunities between the two networks.

    Labour relations will be handled locally.
    Iberia or TopCo will not provide any guarantee or use any cash or credit facilities to fund the BA pension schemes.

    Pre-conditions and conditions
    The signing of a definitive merger agreement, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2010, remains subject to a small number of pre-conditions including:

    Appropriate confirmations from the Spanish and UK Civil Aviation Authorities as to the suitability of the UK and Spanish bodies and from the CNMV as to the suitability and implementation of the structure. In particular that it does not impose any conditions that would prevent TopCo from having its primary listing in the UK and being included in the FTSE UK Index series.

    Limited confirmatory due diligence.

    It has been agreed that the merger agreement will be subject to the following conditions:

    Appropriate antitrust and other regulatory clearances having been received.

    Approval from British Airways’ and Iberia’s shareholders.

    Admission of TopCo shares to a UK listing.

    Iberia will be entitled to terminate the merger agreement if the outcome of the discussions between British Airways and its pension trustees is not, in Iberia’s reasonable opinion, satisfactory because it is materially detrimental to the economic premises of the proposed merger.

    Under the terms of the MOU the parties have agreed that a break fee of €20million will be paid in certain circumstances. The break fee provisions will also be reflected in the merger agreement.

    Shareholder approval process and timetable

    British Airways and Iberia expect to present the transaction for shareholder approval at the latest in early November 2010 with completion expected to occur approximately one month following such approval.

    Further details of the transaction and the joint business plan to be developed by the combined management team will be communicated following execution of the merger agreement.
    The proposed merger will not be subject to the UK Takeover Code.

    There will be a webcast of the analyst slide presentation relating to this announcement available on 13 November 2009 through our website


    I can see it might be good news if you have shares in BA (or even Iberia), but I’m not sure it’s good for those of us living in the UK.

    BA was one of the prime agitators for a Third Runway at LHR. BAA has already said it won’t push for a Third Runway

    “The airport operator BAA has bowed to opposition to a third runway at Heathrow airport. It will not submit a planning application before the general election and will not sign large contracts to “bounce” a future Conservative government into accepting it.” (The Times, October 2009)

    Now BA will have Madrid (MAD) available, so why not expand there instead?

    As Lord Soley (Future Heathrow) has said

    “If Heathrow ceases to be a hub airport, we will pay a terrible price in west London and the Heathrow region, but the country will also pay a high price….. If you want to scare yourself about this, go home tonight and, when you type into your computer, book yourself a ticket somewhere. Try to book a ticket from Newcastle to Tokyo or from Edinburgh to Beijing—places that have links, like with the Toyota car plant or the medical school. You used to go via Heathrow. Now you go via Amsterdam and Paris. That will go on very dramatically. People who say to me that Heathrow is safe and that Heathrow will always be there are saying exactly what I said about the London docks. It is a dangerous complacency.”

    And that was in 2006 !

    LHR will continue to have its North American flights for now, but with MAD available as a European hub, and already serving all those Latin American destinations, why not expand there instead?

    Capacity at MAD was doubled in 2006 with the addition of the new Terminal 4 (designed by Rogers ) and two extra runways. Once more flights are going out of Mad than LHR, decline happens – the Tipping Point argument used by Lord Soley with reference to the London Docks.

    Of course all of this may be inevitable, but when Heathrow becomes an airport for European traffic only and we have to connect via Madrid for long haul (including East Coast US….)

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