AMR-US Airways Settlement Transformative: Butler

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Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Jack Butler, partner at Skadden Arps and lead attorney for AMR creditors, examines the settlement with the Department of Justice that clears the way for the merger between AMR and US Airways and why the sides found agreement rather than going to trial. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.”

Erik, people have been working for weeks to find common ground.

You heard in august when this was filed, both sides said they were open for talking.

They have been having discussions, we have been a part of them.

People acted in good faith, you have seen the results.


that's how it feels today.

But the government's antitrust chief called the steel uncompetitive, said he was willing to go all the way through court to stop the merger.

Was he bluffing?

I think the doj was prepared to go to trial.

But sober the airline parties.

As we said to you early on, we got the government got it wrong.

We set as the case went forward, we would demonstrate that.

At the end of the day, people thought a settlement was better than litigating.

But what was the turning point in the negotiations?

The doj and airlines were prepared to go to trial, what made both sides say let's settle this.

I think the reality is that when you are in litigation and you get close to a trial date, everybody understands that while you may have confidence in your case, you can lose.

If you can find common ground, work with each other and try to meet each other's interests, you can get a settlement.

The doj felt they met their objectives and getting access to low cost carriers at seven airports around the country.

For us, the management team at the new airline rep sitting both american and us airways, they were able to keep assets we need.

How crucial was it to settle before it went to trial?

There were three settlement windows in this trial.

One was for trial started, one was after the evidence when in -- went in.

There was a third window before the judge was writing an opinion.

We urged the parties to try to settle now, to bring clarity now.

As a result, we are going to have this deal closed before year end.

How different are the concessions that the airlines have agreed to now relative to what they rejected a month -- months ago before the government decided to file the antitrust suit?

Erik, you are trying to get me to talk about things i'm not going to talk about.

The reality is, i'm not going to chat about what happened in the evolution of the discussion.

I think this was for the government, in their view, they believe this is a transformational settlement.

For american, the new american, i think american has the assets to be able to implement the business plan we care about.

You may not be willing to share details.

I understand that.

Are these concessions less onerous than the ones the government on the table before?

That is the same question asked another way, erik.

I don't think anyone is prepared to talk about how this evolved.

What happens here is there is a significant number of gates and slots that the doj believes can be used for low-cost carriers.

That is good for competition, good for low-cost carriers, good for the consumer.

At the same time, new american retains the majority of the departures at reagan, all but 14 at la guardia, and the majority around the country.

They would not agree to something that they were not prepared to live with.

Some concessions clearly -- definitionally -- are worse than no concessions.

How much value will this reduce for your clients and creditors?

I don't believe this will have material impact on the synergies any transactions -- how is that possible?

Giving up 52 slots at reagan,, at la guardia, and five other airports.

I don't understand.

You have to think about the business plan that was put together.

This is based on 6,700 daily departures and 53 countries.

This is the largest global airline in the world.

Everyone is disappointed to have to give up slots at reagan, the reality is that the majority of departures at reagan are going to continue to be new american.

That is important to us, that will be an important hub.

When you look at the synergies and the way the business plan was developed, it did not rise and fall on whether there was a 50% reduction in service in one airport -- 15% reduction in service and one airport.

How did you convince them that price and competition would benefit?

I am not quite sure i heard your question completely.

You asked about pricing competition.

The fact is that the doj believes that having additional access for low-cost carriers around the country will lead to more competition in the airline industry.

For american, what we have said all along is the new american, the men and women at us airways and american are prepared to compete.

We view this as a very competitive company that is going to really grow.

It is going to continue to add value to its equity owners, which is what we care about.

And a risk that this will not be approved by the bankruptcy court or the antitrust judge?

The district court in washington has already entered what is necessary to close the merger.

What we have left is judge lane on november 25. he has three determinations to make.

He has got to authorize american to go forward with the settlement, he has to decide there is no resuscitation of votes in connection with the plan of organization.

He has got to decide what to do with the private class-action.

Those are the three decisions.

We are confident he will get to the right place.

I will leave my comments for that when i'm in the courtroom a monday from now.

Maybe we'll have a chance to

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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