Stockholders of Continental
Airlines and United Airlines in separate meetings on Friday agreed to the
carriers' merger, setting the stage for an Oct. 1 closing date.
When the two carriers
announced plans to merge in early May, they anticipated the deal closing by the
end of the year. However, the U.S. Department of Justice last month gave its blessing to the merger, a shorter review than the November or December
timeframe initially anticipated by the carriers. That approval—one of the major
hurdles to sealing the merger—along with today's blessing from shareholders,
which was expected, helped move the anticipated closing date to Oct. 1.
In its approval, DOJ called
the current Continental and United networks "largely complementary," with
routes between Continental's Newark hub and United hubs the primary source of
concern. Continental, however, agreed to lease 36 slots at Newark Liberty
International Airport to Southwest Airlines, helping to satisfy anticompetitive
The all-stock transaction,
valued at more than $3 billion, gives United shareholders 55 percent of the company,
with the remaining 45 percent going to Continental shareholders, who would receive
1.05 shares of United common stock for each share they hold.
"We are grateful for
our stockholders' strong vote of confidence in this merger," said
Continental chairman, president and CEO Jeff Smisek, who will become CEO of the
world's largest airline, which will maintain the United name with headquarters
in Chicago. "In approving the transaction, our stockholders recognized the
value of bringing together Continental and United to create a platform for
increased profitability and sustainable long-term value."