Northwest-backed group offers takeover bid for Midwest

photo: "Midwest N905ME", by Drewski2112

A group of investors, led by TPG Capital and which includes Northwest Airlines, said that it would buy Milwaukee-based Midwest Air for $400 million. The TPG-led bid was announced right after AirTran, which coveted a Milwaukee hub, said that it would no longer pursue its hostile takeover of Midwest. AirTran's final offer of $15.75 a share was less than TPG's $16.

Beyond the per-share figures, though, there might be another reason that Midwest might go for the TPG bid. The airline code-shares with Northwest, which is a key player at Milwaukee. Northwest didn't want another airline to move into the market, so Midwest's rejection of the AirTran bid is good news for them. However, Northwest said in a statement that they would not take part in managing Midwest (if the TPG bid is successful, of course).

The deal still needs to clear the anti-trust regulators, and AirTran CEO Joe Leonard has voiced, unsurprisingly, pessimistic views about this, saying that the "Midwest board has chosen a path that will benefit current senior management by selling out to a private equity firm and a so-called 'passive' investor whose involvement will surely raise antitrust concerns, casting doubt for shareholders on whether a transaction can, in fact, close." But a Midwest spokesperson was more upbeat, saying that the airline expected the deal to go through.