Alaska Air Group Inc. said Monday it plans to buy Virgin America Inc. for $57 a share in cash, higher than Virgin's share price of $38.90 when trading closed Friday. The purchase, including debt and capitalized aircraft operating leases, would value the transaction at $4 billion. The proposed merger has been approved by the boards of both companies. Alaska Air Group, which runs Alaska Airlines, expects to close the deal by no later than Jan. 1 2017. The combination should add to Alaska Air's adjusted per-share earnings in the first full year, excluding integration costs, and increase annual revenue by 27% to more than $7 billion, Alaska said. Virgin America shares jumped 36% in premarket trade to $53. Alaska Air shares were inactive ahead of Monday's opening bell.
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