Air Canada wants to buy travel company Transat. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Transat in exclusive talks with Air Canada to be acquired for $13 per share

MONTREAL — Transat AT Inc. is in exclusive talks with Air Canada, which is offering $13 per share to buy the travel company.

The Montreal-based owner of Air Transat and other travel businesses has been approached by several parties but said Thursday it has agreed to a 30-day period of exclusive negotiations with Air Canada.

Air Canada said separately that it values its offer at about $520 million.

Transat chief executive Jean-Marc Eustache called the announcement good news for the company.

“This is an opportunity to team up with a great company that knows and understands our industry and has had undisputable success in the travel business,” Eustache said in a statement.

“This represents the best prospect for not only maintaining, but growing over the long term the business and jobs that Transat has been developing in Quebec and elsewhere for more than 30 years.”

Transat offers vacation packages, hotel stays and air travel under the Transat and Air Transat brands.

Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said a combination with Transat represents a great opportunity for stakeholders of both companies.

“The acquisition presents a unique opportunity to compete with the very best in the world when it comes to leisure travel,” Rovinescu said in a statement.

Transat first disclosed that it had held preliminary talks regarding the possible sale of the company last month, but did not name the potential bidders at that time.

The news of a potential sale comes after Toronto-based Onex Corp. announced a deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. earlier this week.

Transat shares closed at $10.58 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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