Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Want to Buy An Airline? Show Me the Money

There are a few half-baked reports around today saying that some investment company has "made an offer" or "a bid" to buy American Airlines (rather, its parent company AMR, to be precise). For an alleged $3.25 billion -- for a company that is worth $2.2 billion in market capitalization, as of the close of trading on Wall Street yesterday.

Actually, not many people seem to have heard of the investment firm, Sterling Global Holdings. And the "bid," so far at least, seems to be nothing more than talk and media speculation. Heck, you or I could send a letter claiming we plan to buy Google, right? All we need is the dough.

In this report, Terry Maxon at the Dallas News talked to Allen Weintraub, the general manager of Sterling Global Holdings, and Maxon asked the key question right off the bat:

Q. Do you have $3.25 billion?
A. Oh, we have more than that.

O.K. -- and sure, Donald Trump says he's running for president, too. Easy to say, since we're not at the point yet in the presidential primaries where a candidate needs to put up or shut up. It's all cheap publicity right now -- though some business reporters are starting to look into the alleged would-be AMR buyers a little more assiduously than most political reporters are looking into Trump's presidential "bid."

And it's easy to get the publicity machinery going over airline takeover bids that never quite materialize, as the media genius Trump himself knows.

Back in 1989, Trump got himself a lot of publicity by saying he had made a bid of $7.5 billion for AMR, though he also conceded that he had no commitments from banks to finance the "offer," which never came to fruition.

So show us the money.

P.S. -- and see this from a M&A law professors blog.


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