State of the Airlines

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Continental Airlines and the Golden Share

Surely Continental Airlines makes a pretty attractive partner when it comes to all the airline merger-mongering of late. Ever wonder why nothing seems to materialize? I know I was until I read this Reuters article . A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Northwest Airlines owned a boat load of Continental Airlines stock. That is until the Department of Justice sued Northwest in 2001 for anti-competitive practices, ultimately forcing the airline to sell all but one of their shares. Ahhhh but that one share, the golden share. Golden because it gives Northwest the right to veto any merger involving Continental. I am pretty sure Northwest will keep Continental on a short leash. Northwest and Continental have some pretty extensive code sharing arrangements. Plus a Continental merger would put Northwest at a disadvantage.

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