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Qantas extends Hazelton offer period

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Wednesday 27th December 2000

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Australia's national airline Qantas is extending the period of its offer to buy NSW regional carrier Hazelton Airlines to allow it to meet with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Qantas chief executive-designate, Geoff Dixon, says his company's offer of A$1.20 will be extended at least until January 24th to allow the airline to discuss any of the watchdog's concern's about the proposed acquisition.

"Qantas would still like to proceed with the acquisition of Hazelton and we feel talks with the ACCC will enable both parties to determine whether an acceptable structure can be agreed.

"Hazelton shareholders should note that both the Qantas and Ansett offers remain conditional. Qantas continues to recommend that Hazelton shareholders do not accept either offer until they receive further communication from Qantas."

The ACCC is opposed to any takeover by either Qantas or Air NZ (NZSE: AIRVA) subsidiary Ansett, claiming it would result in one of the airline's taking a dominant position in the takeoff and landing slots at Sydney Airport, which could lessen competition in regional and interstate markets.

Hazelton Airlines had earlier recommended that its shareholders accept the A$1.35 offer from Ansett, but since the ACCC aired its concerns it has told shareholders to sit tight.

Hazelton claims any acquisition by either Qantas or Ansett will "bring the financial and fleet resources necessary to ensure that regional NSW will continue to have competitive, efficient and viable air services."

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