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JetBlue jumps after Icahn discloses 9.91% stake, talks with board

(Bloomberg) — Activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 9.91% stake in JetBlue Airways Corp., calling the shares undervalued, and said he had discussions with management about the possibility of representation on the board of directors.

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The stake, valued at about $204 million based on JetBlue’s closing price, makes Icahn the carrier’s third-largest shareholder, behind BlackRock and Vanguard Group, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of JetBlue jumped as much as 19% in extended trading in New York. The stock has fallen nearly 30% in the past 12 months as federal courts struck down a regional alliance with American Airlines Group Inc. and ruled that the planned $3.8 billion takeover of Spirit Airlines Inc. violated the antitrust laws.

JetBlue and Spirit said they would appeal the decision, but JetBlue told investors on Jan. 30 that it was also evaluating steps it could take to return to profitability as a standalone carrier, including reductions in higher costs, aircraft delays and an overhaul of its flight network.

“We are always open to constructive dialogue with our investors as we continue to execute our plan to increase value for all of our shareholders and stakeholders,” JetBlue said in a statement after disclosing Icahn’s stake in a file.

The news came on the same day Joanna Geraghty took over as chief executive, following the departure of former CEO Robin Hayes due to ill health.

Also Monday, Icahn reached an agreement to add two directors to the board of American Electric Power Co., his latest foray into the U.S. power sector.

(Updates with JetBlue comment in fifth paragraph.)

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