List of Quebec business leaders interested in buying Transat AT continues to grow

An Air Transat sign is seen in Montreal on May 31, 2016. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The list of Quebec players interested in acquiring Transat AT is getting longer with the addition of a group led by the head of financial services company FNC Capital, The Canadian Press has learned.

Dominik Pigeon, whose firm specializes in management buyouts, has confirmed his group’s interest in the tour operator.

“I have a great interest in the company, they know it,” Pigeon said in an interview. “Our goal is not just to buy it, but to grow it, and to support the management team in place.”

The group is supported by BCF Business Law, which did not respond to questions.

READ MORE: ‘I will continue to fight for Quebec companies to stay here’: Quebecor head mulls Transat acquisition

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Pigeon, who has worked for institutions such as Desjardins Group, Export Development Canada and BNP Paribas, did not want to reveal the identity of his partners, but confirmed that he was not alone.

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According to a source familiar with the file, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak publicly, it is a “Quebec financial solution” with local institutional actors and the support of Quebec Inc.

On its website, FNC Capital says it raises funds for “lending and investing with the management team to buy control of their business” in transactions generally priced between $5 million and $200 million.

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In addition to Pigeon, Vincent Chiara, president of real estate developer Groupe Mach, has confirmed that he has submitted an offer for the parent company of Air Transat, while the president and CEO of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau, confirmed he’s requested a financial analysis of the company for a personal investment.

Despite disappointing results in 2018 — including an adjusted loss of $24.5 million — Transat AT is continuing efforts to build a network of hotels at sun destinations in the hope of better positioning to compete against rivals such as Air Canada Rouge, WestJet Vacations and Sunwing.

Jean-Marc Eustache, 71, has been in charge of the company since it was created in 1987. His successor will be chief operating officer Annick Guérard.

Transat’s shares gained 57 cents or 6.14 per cent to $9.86 in Friday trading, giving the company a $371.6-million market capitalization, up about $150 million since confirmation of talks surrounding a potential sale.


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