A couple of weeks ago, Crikey produced a timeline of the seemingly neverending Qantas takeover bid. Now that it’s all over — for now — we update that list.

2006:

JUNE 12 : Qantas announced runner-up for the 2006 Airline of the Year in the World Airline Awards. — WAA

NOVEMBER 6: Qantas share price closes at $4.20.

NOVEMBER 7: Qantas opens new hangar at Victoria’s Avalon Airport. Speculation about a takeover by a foreign private equity firm begins. — “Rumours take off on Qantas takeover”, Australian Financial Review (not online)

NOVEMBER 22 : Ending weeks of speculation that Qantas, the airline confirms it has received an “incomplete” approach from a consortium led by Macquarie and Texas Pacific. Political and regulatory concerns are already casting doubts over the “preliminary” approach to privatise Qantas for an estimated $10 billion. Shares in the national carrier surge 17% to a seven-year high of $5.25 before closing 65c higher at $5.00. – Scott Rochfort, SMH

DECEMBER 1 : 2007 Qantas profit forecast update: 25-30% higher than 2006 profit.

DECEMBER 13: Qantas confirms the bare detail of the multi-national consortium’s proposal and in the same breath rejects it. Qantas says the consortium wants to own the entire airline and is willing to pay $5.50 a share. That puts a value of $10.9 billion on the airline, but the nine non-executive directors of Qantas say the terms are not acceptable. One of the conditions is unanimous support from the Qantas board and some analysts suspect Qantas is holding out for a higher bid. But on the share market, the carrier’s share price has been as low as $4.93 today, almost 6% below yesterday’s close. — ABC News

DECEMBER 14: Airline Partners Australia announces that it has reached agreement with Qantas on an improved offer which includes a cash offer of $5.60 per share for 100% of the issued capital of Qantas. — Macquarie website

DECEMBER 14: Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson says the nine non-executive directors have thrown their weight behind the revised bid, subject to ACCC findings, noting that it provides an attractive premium for Qantas shareholders, being:

33% higher than the closing share price of $4.20 on 6 November 2006, the day before the first speculation about the offer; and
61% above Qantas’ volume weighted average share price of $3.48 over the six months to that date. — Qantas

DECEMBER 15: The ACCC announces it has started investigating the bid. The watchdog notes that one member of the bidding consortium, Macquarie Bank, holds a 49% interest in Sydney Airport and that other consortium partners also have air transport interests. But the head of the ACCC, Graeme Samuel, says Macquarie’s involvement might not be a problem. — ABC News

DECEMBER 20: Chief Executive Officer of Qantas Airways, Mr Geoff Dixon, says that much of the speculation and comment surrounding the proposed takeover of Qantas was wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. — Qantas

DECEMBER 14 : Dixon says he’s been asked to continue as Chief Executive Officer of Qantas by the consortium. He discusses his remuneration, noting that the private equiteers “will invest for me in a Long-Term Incentive Scheme (LTIP)”, the value of which could reach $60 million, depending on Qantas’s performance. Dixon reveals he will give all this money away via a charitable trust. — Qantas

2007:

FEBRUARY 2: APA releases its long-awaited bidders statement to the sharemarket. It will not be increasing its $11 billion bid. — The World Today, ABC

FEBRUARY 8 : Qantas announces a profit before tax (PBT) of $523 million for the half-year ended 31 December 2006, an 8.3% increase on the prior comparative half-year to 31 December 2005. Subject to fuel costs not increasing significantly, etc, there’s a profit forecast upgrade for 2007 with Qantas predicting a profit 30-40% higher than the 2006 result. — Qantas

MARCH 1: Despite strong concerns raised by airlines and airports, the ACCC rules the Macquarie Bank-led $11.1 billion Qantas takeover would not unfairly disadvantage rival carriers and announces it will not oppose the deal. Investors cheer the ACCC’s decision and shares in the Flying Kangaroo jump 2% to $5.23, still 22 cents below the takeover bid. PM, ABC Radio

MARCH 5: Margaret Jackson delivers speech to Citigroup Australia and New Zealand 4th Annual Invesment Conference entitled “When Private Equity Knocks.” “Today the decision is with the shareholders,” says Jackson. “They have the Board’s recommendation, independent advice, and detailed information from both Qantas and the bidder. They have a very good price indeed on offer. And shareholders can be sure that the process which got us to this point has been resolutely fair, ethical, transparent and effective. In fact, I believe the process has been exemplary.” Qantas

MARCH 6: After a nod from the Foreign Investment Review Board, the federal government gives the go-ahead for the sale of Qantas after APA agrees to guarantee Australian jobs and regional routes. “There are no objections … for the bid to proceed,” Treasurer Peter Costello tells reporters. – The Age

MARCH 15: Qantas releases a statement in response to “substantial media commentary concerning the current outlook for Qantas. Qantas has also received questions from certain investors on this issue in view of the offer which has been made for Qantas by Airline Partners Australia.” Qantas indicates it expects the pre-tax earnings rise to be near the 40% top of the range, which would equate to $940 million, and pre-tax earnings would rise a further 30% in 2008 to $1.23 billion in line with the average consensus of analysts, equating to a price to earnings ratio of 14 times the 2007 result, and 12.7 times the expected 2008 result, increasing the feeling in some quarters that APA is not offering enough. — The Australian

MARCH 23: Key Qantas shareholder Balanced Equity Management announces that it will not sell its 3.9% stake in Qantas. Qantas stock sinks 3.1% on the news. APA immediately announces it will extend the deadline for shareholders to accept their A$5.45-a-share offer by more than two weeks to April 20 and is considering its options. — MSNBC

MARCH 28: Credit Suisse becomes the third institutional investor in as many days to reveal it has taken a significant shareholding in takeover target Qantas. The Swiss investment bank says it has built a 5.39% stake in Qantas, which is the subject of an $11.1 billion takeover bid from a private equity consortium. It comes after Deutsche Bank said it had purchased an 8.4% stake in the airline and UBS informed the market that it had increased its shareholding from 8.94 to 10.4%. — The Australian

MARCH 29: Rising fuel costs and the looming arrival of new carriers in Australian skies, including entry of the Singapore Airlines part-owned Tiger, sparks alarm within the APA bid group. APA presses Qantas management for an urgent response to explain the effect rising fuel costs and increased competition will have on future profits in order to keep abreast of new issues which are likely to adversely affect the airline’s accounts. A jump in the world price of oil compounds concerns APA has now about what is now a much-changed commercial landscape. — The Herald Sun

APRIL 1: Acceptances slow to a trickle. 80% of the shares are effectively spoken for, 70% in APA’s favour, and the remaining 20% remain on the sidelines.The Age

APRIL 6: The banks behind the APA offer agree to refinance it so that APA can take control of the airline without buying 100%, allowing APA to drop a clause that made its $5.45-a-share bid conditional on APA reaching a shareholding of least 90%, the point at which it can compulsorily acquire the remaining shares. Qantas shares firm 7c to $5.25 as confidence grows. — The SMH

APRIL 10: Market speculation suggests APA has decided to drop a condition requiring 90% acceptances to 75% but APA issues a denial. “There is no decision yet from APA to alter the terms and conditions of the current offer,” an APA spokesman says. — The SMH

APRIL 12: APA loosens the terms of its offer. Originally setting out to persuade 90% of shareholders to accept its offer of $5.45 per share, in the face of resistance from key institutional shareholders, APA amends the terms so that the takeover can proceed with the backing of 70% of Qantas shareholders. This marks a setback for the private equity firms behind the takeover as under the revised terms, Qantas will remain listed on the stock market. APA also warns the carrier’s debt will rise on the back of a plan to reduce Qantas’s capital by $4.5 billion that would be funded by debt. — BBC

APRIL 13: Qantas unions seek assurances about the security of more than $600 million in workers’ entitlements after the full extent of the debt burden facing the “new” Qantas was revealed. In a letter sent by the ACTU, the 11 unions seek a meeting to gain details from the likely new owners about the airlines’ plans for asset sales, leaseback arrangements and possible deals to leave joint ventures, and the likely impact these changes will have on Qantas workers. — The SMH

APRIL 14: APA’s plans to take billion of dollars from Qantas’ balance sheet angers some federal MPs, who feel they have been misled by the private equity consortium bidding for the national carrier, the plan prompts calls for a fresh review of the bid. “They are not playing with their money. They are playing with everybody else’s money and they are playing with our economy,” said Senator Barnaby Joyce. – The Age

APRIL18: Qantas produces another set of bumper traffic figures, fuelling expectations the carrier is on track to post its fourth profit upgrade since being approached by APA. Flying in the face of warnings from Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson and APA about the threats facing the national carrier, another upgrade could hamper the consortium’s bid to gain control of the airline only days after lowering its acceptance condition to 70%. — The Sydney Morning Herald

APRIL 18: Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson turns up the heat on Airline Partners Australia with a call for its $11.1 billion offer to be expedited. With shareholder support beginning to drift, Jackson flags for a second time the Qantas board’s growing impatience with the buyout syndicate as APA is holding just 29% of Qantas’s shares and Qantas shares fall 1c to $5.37. “The independent directors note that it has now been more than four months since Airline Partners Australia’s initial announcement of its intention to make an offer for Qantas,” says Jackson. — news.com.au

APRIL 18: It’s reported that the $11.1 billion private equity bid for Qantas is slipping out of the suitors’ control, following indications that institutional investors have begun withdrawing their acceptances. APA tells the stock exchange its Qantas holding has fallen from 30.06% to 28.86%. General acceptances had increased from 11.67% to 12.15%.– The Brisbane Times

APRIL 23: APA sets a final deadline in order to speed up the takeover process, announcing that May 4th will be the final day for shareholders to accept the $5.45 per share offer. If Airline Partners Australia retains 70% voting rights by that day, the offer will become unconditional and those who have accepted the deal will be paid in cash within five business days. — Sky News

APRIL 29: One of Qantas’s key institutional shareholders, Balanced Equity Management, which owns 4% of shares in the carrier, says it is committed to not accepting the current $11.1 billion takeover bid for the national carrier because it falls a long way short of a reasonable price. — SMH

MAY 2: The trickle of Qantas acceptances has turned into a minor flood as consortium Airline Partners Australia’s voting stake in the airline jumped more than 10 percentage points to 27.78%. When instructions held under the institutional acceptance facility are included, the consortium now has 32.96% of the airline and sources close to the deal are expecting another surge of acceptances today. — Steve Creedy, The Australian

MAY 4: Qantas shares finish the day at $5.38.

MAY 4: APA’s deadline for getting 50% of Qantas shares, in order to get a two-week extension of the bid, lapses at 7pm. APA fails to get across the line, only securing 46%.

MAY 5: The Qantas board should quit over the “fiasco” of the $11.1 billion takeover bid by Airline Partners Australia (APA), the Shareholders Association says. — The West

MAY 6: Qantas officially acknowledges that the consortium bid has failed. — ABC News

MAY 6: In an urgent meeting ASIC decides to knock back APA’s request to review its failure to get 50% of shares by the deadline. The Takeovers Panel dismissed APA’s argument that rich US investor Sam Heyman invintended to support the bid, but due to unforeseen circumstances he didn’t make Friday’s 7pm offer deadline. “In the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, the Panel does not accept that the offer period closing at 7pm . . . gives rise to unacceptable circumstances.” — Herald Sun

MAY 6: In March, Jackson had said that investors who didn’t think the shares would slump if the buyout failed had “a mental problem with how the market works.” She’s now Jackson has told friends she will fight on and resist calls to stand down after the bid she pushed failed. — Herald Sun.

MAY 7: American billionaire Samuel Heyman woke up early Friday morning in the US to several frantic and incredulous phone calls. The most furious were from two giant US hedge funds. The funds were beside themselves that Heyman had managed to scupper the entire Qantas deal byi reneging on a mutual understanding. This agreement had been supposed to deliver just enough stock to get the bid across the line by 5am, New York time.” — Jennifer Hewett, The Australian

MAY 7:  APA’s request for an appeal of ASIC’s decision on extending the deadline is also rejected. Says ASIC: “In ASIC’s view, the market was fully aware of the fact that APA had indicated 7.00pm AEST on 4 May as the time at which the bid would close”. — The Age

MAY 7: Indigenous communities and medical research are also losers. Qantas chief executive officer Geoff Dixon said last December, when the bid was offered, he would use his share to set up a long-term incentive scheme that could have totalled as much as $60 million over five years. — Herald Sun

MAY 7: APA is exploring its options, including the possibility of making a renewed offer for Qantas at $5.45 per share. — APA website.

MAY 7: It all shows the “system has worked well,” says Treasurer Costello in a door stop interview. “What happens in the future, if anyone wants to lodge a new bid, the whole thing starts again, everything starts again … It’s just like we were right back at the beginning of this whole episode.”

Peter Fray

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