Hedge Fund Ups Pressure For Airline Merger

Nov 19 2007 | 7:17am ET

While Delta Air Lines and United Airlines’ parent played down the possibility of a merger, the hedge fund pushing the tie-up is ratcheting up the pressure. Gordon Bethune, the former Continental Airlines CEO who is advising Pardus Capital Management, spoke with a group of what he called major shareholders on Friday, the Associated Press reports.

The hour-and-a-half presentation, hosted by Merrill Lynch, also considered possible mergers between Delta and both Continental and Northwest Airlines. In a letter to Delta and United last week, Pardus said neither combination offers as many benefits as one between Delta and United.

“Quite frankly, there’s no reasons not to do it now considering oil is $95, and we are headed for a downward cycle in the airline business,” he told the AP. But he refused to say which investors attended the presentation.

Pardus owns about 2.5% of Delta and about 5% of UAL Corp., which owns United.

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