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Neeleman Denies Report of Buying Back JetBlue Airways (JBLU)

According to a Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, David Neeleman, a serial entrepreneur who founded JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) but was removed from his CEO post 6 years back, is raising $3.2 billion investment fund to regain the control of the Company and acquire a struggling Portuguese airlines, TAP.

However, Neeleman who currently leads low-cost Brazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas, said that the report is not true. “I always think about things we can do, but at this moment, I am focused on Azul. It is not true that I will buy TAP or JetBlue,” said Neeleman to Folha, according to Reuters.

“My focus is 100% on taking Azul public,” said Neeleman in an interview.

Shares of JetBlue Airways closed 3.45% higher to close at $6.29 on Friday.

In its report, Folha, which did not reveal the source/s from where it learnt about this story, said that Brazilian state development bank BNDES, will contribute $600 million or 20% of the total amount of investment fund, adding that Azul stakeholders will also participate in this fund. The report also said Neeleman himself will bring 5% of the total fund. The report said that BNDES wants to create a domestic carrier which could compete in global arena.

When contacted to comment over the grapevine, a JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young said that the Company’s policy is to not comment on any speculation or rumors.

Meanwhile a spokesman from BNDES also declined to comment on the matter.

Market grapevine that Neeleman was keen to buy back JetBlue have being doing rounds for quite some time now. Back in 2011, while speaking to CNN Money, Neeleman said that (buying the company back) “always an option”, according to Reuters. However, at that time, BlueJet was not a great investment.


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