Updated from 4:25 p.m. EST
Germany's Lufthansa has agreed to buy 19% of JetBlue (JBLU - Get Report), signaling a vote of confidence in an innovative, comfort-focused carrier with a lagging share price and marking the latest foray into a U.S. company by a foreign investor.
The carriers said Lufthansa will spend approximately $300 million to buy 42 million shares of JetBlue at $7.27 each. JetBlue's stock rose 14% Thursday to $7.15. It had closed Wednesday at $6.25, just 10 cents above the 52-week low.
The agreement, which is subject to regulatory review, is scheduled to close in the first quarter. At that time, a Lufthansa nominee would join the JetBlue board.Lufthansa approached JetBlue around the close of summer or early fall, said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, on a conference call with analysts. "We look at Lufthansa as a really smart investor," he said. "What a huge affirmation statement that is, regarding their interest in JetBlue." The transaction is strictly a financial one for now, he said, but "as the largest domestic airline at