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United Airlines Poised to ‘Shake up Board’ yet Again

United Continental is close to announcing new board appointments on Wednesday, just a month after it appointed three new directors, averting a protracted fight with activist investors, people familiar with the matter said.

A United Airlines plane with the Continental Airlines logo on its tail, sits at a gate at O'Hare International airport in Chicago
A United Airlines plane with the Continental Airlines logo on its tail, sits at a gate at O'Hare International airport in Chicago. REUTERS/Frank Polich Frank Polich / Reuters, file

The deal stops short of the slate of six that activists PAR Capital Management Inc and Altimeter Capital Management LP had asked shareholders to vote onto the board this June, including former Continental Airlines chief Gordon Bethune.

Former Orbitz Chief Executive Barney Harford and Edward Shapiro, a partner at PAR, will join United's board immediately as part of the settlement between the company and the activists, the people said on Tuesday.

Another director, mutually agreed between United, PAR and Altimeter, will be added to the board in the next six months, the people added.

Separately, Robert Milton, Air Canada's former chief executive who joined United's board last month, will be appointed non-executive chairman at the company's annual meeting in June, replacing Henry Meyer, the people said.

United President and CEO Oscar Munoz, who was due to become non-executive chairman in 2017, has agreed to postpone this appointment by a year to 2018, the people added.

The people cautioned that details of the settlement were still being finalized and asked not to be identified because the agreement was not yet public. United declined to comment. A spokesman for PAR and Altimeter could not immediately be reached for comment.