Charter airline operator Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ: AAWW) is reportedly in advanced talks to be acquired by a private equity consortium. Investors are buying the rumor, sending Atlas Air shares up as much as 16% on Monday afternoon.
Atlas operates under a number of brands providing freight, charter, and military aviation services to customers. The company is perhaps best known as one of the main operators of Amazon‘s cargo aviation operations, the result of a 2016 agreement that provided Amazon with warrants to acquire shares of the airline.
Atlas may not be a public company for much longer. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that a group led by Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO) is in advanced talks to acquire Atlas, with a deal announcement expected soon if talks do not fall apart.
The report did not detail the terms being discussed, but long-term shareholders would likely do well. Shares of Atlas are up 86% over the past three years, and the company has matured into a healthy and stable charter carrier following years of false starts.
A deal, if announced, would mark continued merger and acquisition interest in the transportation sector. Last week, Spirit Airlines agreed to be acquired by JetBlue Airways, rebuffing a second suitor, Frontier Group Holdings.
Airlines are seeing strong demand for both passenger and cargo services right now, but are also dealing with higher fuel and labor costs and a shortage of pilots.
Investors who aren’t currently Atlas shareholders are probably too late to jump in, as it is uncertain how much the Apollo group would be willing to pay. But if the reports are true, it appears Atlas could deliver a nice payout for longtime shareholders.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Lou Whiteman has positions in Spirit Airlines. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends JetBlue Airways. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.