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Impulse Airlines throws hat in ring for Hazelton Airlines.

AIRLINE INDUSTRY INFORMATION-(C)1997-2001 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

Impulse Airlines, a recent entrant into the Australian domestic market, has indicated that it would like to pursue merger talks with Hazelton Airlines, a regional carrier that is also the target of takeover bids from major Australian carriers, Ansett and Qantas.

Gerry McGowan, Impulse Airlines' CEO, has revealed that his company was in merger talks with Hazelton Airlines until late 2000 when Ansett and Qantas 'confused the situation' by launching their own offers for the regional carrier.

The offers from the two major carriers have so far not been reviewed favourably by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has raised competition concerns about either Ansett or Qantas owning the smaller airline. McGowan told the Australian Broadcasting Commission that he is hoping a final rejection of Ansett's and Qantas' bids from regulatory authorities would allow Impulse Airlines to recommence merger negotiations with Hazelton Airlines.

In support of his interest in Hazelton Airlines, McGowan stated: 'I don't think that we're conflict in any way, we're not trying to dominate slots. We simply don't have the conflict in terms of interest for the bush, that Ansett and Qantas have, and I think it is a natural fit.'

Meanwhile, the ACCC said on 16 January that it would not oppose Impulse Airlines' bid for Hazelton Airlines according to FWN Financial. A spokesperson for the ACCC stated that a takeover by Impulse Airlines would probably not breach the Trade Practices Act and would therefore be acceptable.

The ACCC has indicated that it is due to hold further meetings with Ansett and Qantas this week regarding their offers for Hazelton Airlines, but that a final decision was not likely until next week. The ACCC is concerned that if Ansett or Qantas buy Hazelton Airlines they will hold too dominant a position at slot-constrained Sydney Airport.

Ansett, which is owned by Air New Zealand and already owns just over 35% of the smaller carrier, is offering AUD1.60 per share for Hazelton Airlines, while Qantas is offering AUD1.50 per share and currently owns a 29% stake.

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Publication:Airline Industry Information
Date:Jan 17, 2001
Words:362
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