The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the merger of United and Continental Airlines, the carriers announced on Friday. UAL and CAL expect to close the transaction by October 1, assuming their respective stockholders vote to clear the deal next month.
"We are pleased to have achieved this critical milestone and look forward to our respective stockholders' votes next month, following which we expect to be on track to close our merger by October 1," said Glenn Tilton, UAL Corp. chairman, president and CEO. "The combination of United and Continental will create a world-class airline, which will deliver an industry-leading network for our customers and the communities we serve, career opportunities for our people, and value and return for our stockholders."
"The completion of [the] DOJ's review is an important step on our journey of creating the world's leading airline, benefiting our customers, coworkers, communities and stockholders," added Jeff Smisek, Continental's chairman, president and CEO. "The DOJ's decision permits us to clear one of the last regulatory hurdles to closing our merger."
Continental and United remain engaged in discussions with the state attorneys general over the merger, and hope to conclude the talks "expeditiously with a positive outcome."
The airlines announced an all-stock merger of equals on May 3. Under the plans for the merger, UAL will issue 1.05 shares for each Continental share. United shareholders will own about 55 percent of the equity of the combined company and Continental shareholders will own 45 percent. Both companies have scheduled special stockholder meetings on September 17 for approval of the merger.
The $3.2 billion merger would create the biggest airline in the world and leave the U.S. with three major international carriers: the new United, Delta and American Airlines.
United and Continental last month received clearance for the merger from the European Commission, which noted its investigation found the transaction would not raise competitive concerns in Europe or on transatlantic routes.