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Gatwick-based private jet firm Air Partner’s shares soar 50% on US takeover bid

·2-min read
 (Gulfstream G650ER)
(Gulfstream G650ER)

Shares in Gatwick-based private jet chartering outfit Air Partner are up 52% today, just a shade below the premium offered by US suitor Wheels Up in a takeover bid disclosed this morning.

Directors at Air Partner, which has been ferrying the elites around the world for 60 years, have agreed to the terms of the 125p-a-share all-cash bid which values the broker at £84.8 million.

That was a 54.3% premium to Air Partner's closing share price last night.

Air Partner was chosen as the preferred private jet partner to bring dignitaries and celebrities to London for the Queen's platinum jubilee pageant in June.

Enquires soared through the pandemic as business travellers and the ultra-wealthy sought to avoid busy airport lounges and commercial flights.

Wheels Up went public on the Nasdaq via a Spac in November and is known in the US as the "Zipcar of private jets".

It says the merger will accelerate its global growth adding 18 new destinations, and be accretive to EBITDA in the first year.

CEO/chairman Kenny Dichter said: “We look forward to sharing more details on the transaction and our go-to-market plans after the deal formally closes.”

Air Partner's shares briefly dipped to 17p in March 2020 as Covid threw the global markets into a tailspin.

Wheels Up's shares topped $10 at launch but have since plunged by 70%. They were up a touch to $3.81 today.

Alasdair Whyte at Corporate Jet Investor blamed its lack of aircraft supply for the stuttering performance, an issue the acquisition will not solve.

Air Partner's 'asset light' structure sees it broker flights, rather than own fleets of gleaming Gulfstreams.

Air Partner CEO Mark Briffa said: "This proposed acquisition has a compelling strategic rationale, bringing together two businesses with complementary offerings and values for the benefit of their customers."

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