Shareholders of Montreal-based Transat A.T. voted Aug. 23 in favor of Air Canada’s takeover bid, ending months of uncertainty and paving the way for review by Canadian regulatory authorities in the coming weeks.

The transaction was approved by 95% of Transat shareholders, with approximately 70% of eligible shareholders participating.

The proposed transaction would see Air Canada acquire Transat, including its Air Transat operating division, at C$18/share ($13.60), valuing the transaction at about C$720 million.

Transat president and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache said the arrangement will create a Montreal-based travel leader that will be able to compete on a global scale. “This transformative transaction will create long-term benefits for our employees, travelers and communities, all the while providing significant value for our shareholders,” he said.

The transaction remains subject to closing conditions, including the approval of the Superior Court of Quebec, as well as likely regulatory review by Transport Canada and the Canadian Competition Bureau, in part because Air Canada is the largest competitor in many of Air Transat’s markets.

“This is the best possible outcome for all stakeholders,” Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a statement following the vote. “For shareholders of Transat and Air Canada, the combination delivers excellent value, while also providing increased job security for both companies’ employees through greater growth prospects.”

“Air Canada plans to preserve the Transat and Air Transat brands and maintain the Transat head office and its key functions in Montreal,” Rovinescu added.

The Canadian flag carrier and Air Transat in May agreed to the acquisition of the leisure carrier for C$13/share—a C$520 million valuation, including debt. Air Canada increased its bid to C$18 on Aug. 12, after Air Transat’s largest shareholder, investment management firm Letko Brosseau, said it would not agree to the deal at the prior valuation.

A last-ditch effort by Quebecor Inc. CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau to persuade shareholders to vote down the deal and seek a new suitor—potentially a team led by him—also failed.

Despite the 38% purchase-price boost that Air Canada paid, Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker was bullish on the move, telling clients in a recent investor note the acquisition “could be a home run for Air Canada if they can turn Transat into a consistently profitable company,” noting the C$3 billion in annual revenue Transat typically generates.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com