Key Qantas Shareholder Says It Will Not Accept Offer

A key shareholder in Australian takeover target Qantas Airways said on Friday it did not plan to accept the $8.7 billion bid, sending shares in the Australian airline down more than 4%.

Balanced Equity Management, which reportedly holds about 4% of the airline, said in a statement it did not plan to accept the offer from a consortium led by Macquarie Bank with equity markets at current levels.

Qantas shares fell as much as 4% on fears institutional shareholders could topple the bid. The stock was trading 3.5% lower at A$5.04 on Friday afternoon.

The consortium, which also includes private equity firm Texas Pacific Group, said in a statement it had extended the offer until April 20.

The consortium, Airline Partners Australia (APA), needs 90% of shareholder acceptances. It said shareholders owning about 29% of Qantas stock had accepted so far.

Another key shareholder, UBS Global Asset Management, has also criticized the offer as too low and could block the bid if Balanced voted the same way, local newspapers said.

The Australian Financial Review said on Friday that UBS Global Asset Management owned about 6% of Qantas but had placed orders for more stock.

A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment.

UBS' investment banking division is advising Qantas on the deal.

The bidding consortium -- which also comprises Allco Equity Partners, Allco Finance Group and Canadian investment firm Onex Corp. -- has said it would not raise its offer for Qantas.

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