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Competition bureau approves WestJet buyout

The Canadian Competition Bureau has granted approval without conditions to Onex Partners for its acquisition of WestJet, removing another regulatory obstacle and bringing the Toronto-based private equity firm closer to completing the buyout.

Calgary-based WestJet announced the bureau's decision on 13 August and says it will continue to "engage with the relevant authorities on the remaining approvals."

The Canadian Minister of Transport in June approved the transaction “on the basis that the proposed acquisition of WestJet by Onex does not raise public interest issues as related to national transportation”, the airline writes in a statement.

A majority of WestJet shareholders during a meeting in July also voted in favour of the proposed acquisition.

Onex has spent years attempting to increase its aviation focus and aims to continue the airline’s transition into a global carrier. The acquisition would include purchasing the airline’s debt, which was C$1.29 billion ($969 million) at the end of March. The deal would give Canada’s second largest carrier the resources to erase its debt and focus on its expansion and efficiency goals.

WestJet and Onex entered into a definitive agreement on 12 May under which Onex will acquire the airline's outstanding stock at C$31.00 ($23.55) per share - a 67% premium over the 10 May closing price of C$18.52. Kestrel Bidco, an affiliate formed by Onex, aims to raise $2.4 billion in debt to fund the leveraged buyout and will own all of WestJet when the deal closes.

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