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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
APA Qantas bid wins late reprieve
Qantas tailfins
The takeover has faced strong opposition in Australia
A consortium trying to buy Australia's Qantas Airways says a sufficient number of shareholders have accepted its offer, hours after saying they had not.

Airline Partners Australia (APA) said it had gained 50.6% of Qantas shares, just 0.6% above the minimum stake required to keep their bid alive.

APA had admitted defeat before Friday's 0900 GMT deadline, so it must now ask regulators for permission to proceed.

The $A10.8bn ($8.9bn; 4.5bn) bid has faced strong opposition in Australia.

A number of senior Australian politicians have attacked the takeover attempt, fearing that APA will both end a number of internal routes, and also move jobs to South Asia.

They also objected to the involvement of overseas firms in such an Australian company.

However, the Australian government has backed the deal, and APA had moved to alleviate fears over reduced fights and potential job cuts.

New target

Shortly before the deadline on Friday, APA said it seemed that it had not gained the required number of shares.

But in a dramatic turnaround, the consortium later issued a statement saying its bid had been revived.

"On Friday evening, APA announced that, subject to confirmation, it appeared that the offer had failed to reach the 50% level required for the offer to proceed," it said.

"However, subsequently on Friday, APA received an acceptance from a large investor, which would be sufficient to take acceptances for Qantas shares to more than 50%."

"APA intends to make submissions to the Takeovers Panel to allow the offer to continue."

If it is allowed to proceed, APA will be given another two weeks to get support up to 70% - the level at which it would be allowed to buy out automatically the remaining shareholders.

Australian stockbrokers said the consortium would find it even harder to win 70% backing.

"It's now running up against some of the hardcore shareholders who have indicated they wouldn't accept this bid at the current price," Brent Mitchell of SHAW Stockbroking told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

APA is majority led by the Australian bank, Macquarie, but also includes the US buyout giant, Texas Pacific, and the Canadian firm, Onex Corporation.

It first announced its interest in Qantas six months ago and has offered $5.45 per share for the airline, dubbed the Flying Kangaroo.


SEE ALSO
APA admits likely Qantas defeat
04 May 07 |  Business
Deadline looms for Qantas offer
03 May 07 |  Business
Qantas suitor steps up bid battle
24 Apr 07 |  Business
Qantas bid hit by investor block
23 Mar 07 |  Business
Qantas warning over takeover bid
21 Mar 07 |  Business
Qantas bid cleared by government
06 Mar 07 |  Business

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