Aimia in talks with Oneworld alliance as potential Aeroplan partner

Aimia Inc. says it's in talks with the Oneworld airline alliance, a potential partner for its Aeroplan program, which is currently a takeover target by an Air Canada-led group that has offered to buy the loyalty points program.

Confirmation comes on same day that the Air Canada bid is set to expire

Montreal-based Aimia has confirmed it is in discussions with Oneworld, whose members include British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, about forming a partnership. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Aimia Inc. says it's in talks with the Oneworld airline alliance, a potential partner for its Aeroplan program, which is currently a takeover target by an Air Canada-led group that has offered to buy the loyalty points program.

The Montreal-based company confirmed the discussions with Oneworld, whose members include British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, the same day that the Air Canada bid was set to expire.

The group has offered to pay Aimia $250 million and assume about $2 billion in liabilities, making its offer worth about $2.25 billion.

Aimia declined to elaborate on its strategic talks and referred further inquiries to Oneworld, a direct rival to the Star alliance that includes Air Canada as a member.

Shares of Aimia dipped one cent to close at $3.46 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Air Canada said last week that Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Visa Canada wants to buy the Aeroplan loyalty business to allow customers to transfer their points to its own platform in 2020.

The group said the offer would expire Aug. 2 but such deadlines are often amended.

Some analysts have said the Air Canada group would need to increase its offer but the airline said last week that it is offering a substantial premium.

Under the proposal, a corporation to be formed by the consortium would acquire Aimia's loyalty business, including roughly $2 billion worth of Aeroplan points obligations as of March 31, 2018, for $250 million in cash.

The future of Aeroplan, which has more than five million members, has been in doubt since Air Canada announced in May 2017 that it planned to launch its own loyalty rewards plan in 2020.

Aimia's 30-year-partnership with Air Canada is due to expire in July 2020.