Merger Madness

Merger Madness

In the spirit of Bravo TV’s Millionaire Matchmaker, we bring you Mileage Matchmaker, a.k.a. Merger Madness. In preparation for this article, we polled frequent flyers visiting and found that more than 75 percent expressed an interest in the outcome of the swirling rumors about airline mergers. And why? Well, it’s all about the miles. Thirty-six percent of those polled expressed a concern about the fate of their frequent flyer miles, easily surpassing the 25 percent of those polled who were worried about passenger benefits. And these worries are not without merit, although most frequent flyer program members aren’t sure what to worry about at this stage. Even here at InsideFlyer, we’re worried. Not about the fate of members’ miles, as we absolutely believe there is no danger whatsoever that members will lose of any of their hard-earned miles — regardless of the outcome of any of the rumored airline mergers. But we do worry deeply about the fate of the makeup of some of these programs if certain rumors come true. And more importantly, what the landscape will be in the near and far future for benefits and competitive partnerships. We’ll look at several possible mergers: Delta-Northwest, United-Continental, United-US Airways and American-(fill in the blank).

The Background

Unlike the environment of past mergers, currently there are no airlines near the bankruptcy cliff driving these mergers. Rather, the possible mergers are driven by what appears to be a colossal mistake by Delta Air Lines.

Sure, record fuel prices are enough to make any airline take the big gulp and start searching for a partner to help share expenses. But with the handiness of added “fuel surcharges” popping up in places from FedEx to UPS, and even on the local level, it’s a bump in the road that most businesses can adjust to. And you don’t have to look any further than across the pond to see how high fuel prices can impact an airline’s bottom line. For years Europe has had much higher fuel prices than the U.S., and yet airlines there seem to be flourishing.

To get back to the colossal mistake by Delta, which may put into play the very scenario that has been suggested since the first Gulf War — the consolidation of the airline industry. Delta’s mistake? Not being very good at running their airline. When Delta was in bankruptcy recently, they decided to “manage” their future by turning down a respectable $9.5 billion offer from US Airways. Sure, we’ve got the same joke list as others as to whether they would have been better off with that offer than they are today, but Delta seems to have based much of their ability to emerge from bankruptcy on oil being at $65 a barrel. Now that oil is at $100 a barrel, it looks like they did not leverage or hedge their fuel in a manner that would have proved that strategy a good one.

We’re sure there is much more to this than our simple view of the matter. But it is that particular mistake by Delta and their inability to make the right decisions during these difficult times that now leads them scurrying to merge with another airline. In all news reports we’ve seen, they are the aggressor, which means they feel they really need to find a way to share the costs of doing business.

And there is more. From 1998 to 2003, Delta Air Lines shared a frequent flyer program alliance with United Airlines which by most measures worked fairly well. It would have been during this time that Delta would have sized up the advantages and its “fit” with United. But of course in 2003, Delta left that partnership to amend their new relationships with both Continental and Northwest during the evolution of the SkyTeam alliance.

With the reported demands of Delta to retain its name and headquarters location, there is little doubt that Delta would be laughed at by United if the airline asked to return to the merger table with United. And that is where we are today, Delta pursuing a merger with Northwest, an airline with shared experience of the senior management of Delta, and for whatever reason, the shadow of still being “Northworst” Airlines.

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at the differences in the frequent flyer programs between the various merger partners and take a look at what members of the programs might be looking at in the future — if the mergers go through. We’ll try to keep the speculation and wishful thinking to a minimum.

Delta SkyMiles — Northwest WorldPerks

This is the most logical and easiest of mergers to happen. Since 2003, these two airlines have shared a partnership in not only a domestic alliance of their two programs, but an international alliance as well in SkyTeam. Philosophically, SkyMiles has changed more over the years than WorldPerks, with WorldPerks having long been seen as lenient on upgrades and offering other imaginative promotional efforts. So let’s compare these two programs.

Change: We’ll start with the important stuff — change. SkyMiles reserves the right to change program rules, benefits, regulations, travel awards, fees, mileage Award levels and special offers at any time without notice. However, they will give us all six months’ notice if they decide to terminate the program. WorldPerks may change the program rules, regulations, benefits, conditions of participation or mileage levels for awards, tickets and cities served, in whole or in part, at any time without notice and has the right to terminate the WorldPerks program at any time. We sure hate to start things out this way.

Expiration of miles: For SkyMiles members, accounts with no activity for 12 consecutive months after enrollment will be deleted and after that period, miles will expire after 24 months unless there is some activity in the account including earning miles not only from Delta flights but from earning miles with program partners, redeeming miles for an award or buying miles from Delta.

WorldPerks rules for expiring miles are a bit more murky, though more positive: WorldPerks miles have no expiration date. However, consistent with the general terms and conditions of the WorldPerks program, Northwest Airlines reserves the right to change the WorldPerks program at any time without notice, including imposition of expiration limits or reactivation fees. If a WorldPerks member’s account does not have any mileage earning or redemption activity within three consecutive years, the account is subject to termination, including forfeiture of all accrued mileage. See what me mean by “murky”?

Bottom line: Should this merger come to pass we believe that the combined program will include the language that governs the SkyMiles program. Not a real loss to WorldPerks members and melting WorldPerks miles into a SkyMiles account will count as activity so everyone who has the two types of miles can be guaranteed at least two years before the mileage police come knocking at your door.

Elite Membership: Over the years these two programs have progressed to about a 90 percent overlap of benefits and rules, but there are some differences. WorldPerks members can gain elite through segment qualification. You can earn Platinum when flying 100 segments, Gold with 60 and Silver with 30 segments within a calendar year. Delta does not allow elite qualification through segments, only miles.

However, Delta has had this second elite qualification ability in the past and we believe that the combined program would go with the WorldPerks program, thus adding segment qualification again to SkyMiles.

And there are more differences. WorldPerks has an extra award level for elites called ExtraPerks. Only Gold and Platinum elite members can qualify for this and once members reach 60,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) they have a bonus choice of 1) 2,500 bonus EQMs; 2) two WorldClub day passes; 3) $50 Marriott Bonus Bucks coupon; 4) $100 NWA WorldVacations discount certificate or, 5) a $50 gift certificate. Additional bonus awards are available at 90,000, 120,000, 160,000, 200,000, 240,000, 280,000 and 320,000 EQMs.

What is outstanding about this is that as members reach each EQM threshold, you are eligible to select an ExtraPerks award. From 160,000 miles upward your picks include 1) 30,000 bonus miles; 2) one-year WorldClubs membership; 3) four one-way confirmed domestic upgrades; 4) two one-way confirmed system-wide upgrades or, 5) 50 percent off World Business Class PerkPass award (value up to 120,000 miles).

Delta has their version of extra benefits for those who fly the most. Delta’s Million Miler program awards Silver Medallion status for members reaching one million MQMs, Gold status for reaching two million MQMs and Platinum status for those reaching four million MQMs.

At this time Northwest does not have a formal million miler program and we predict that if this merger goes through, ExtraPerks will be discontinued and the SkyMiles Million Miler program will be adopted.

Furthermore, SkyMiles currently has an exclusive benefit for all their elite members called the Medallion Marketplace which allows elite members to redeem miles for merchandise and other assorted non-flight awards (TVs, DVD players, hotel stays, golf outings, gift cards, etc.) and we feel that this program would replace ExtraPerks for WorldPerks members.

Another difference is the flight mileage bonuses for elites. SkyMiles elite-level members earn mileage bonuses of 25 percent (Silver) and 100 percent (Gold and Platinum). WorldPerks elite-level members earn 50 percent (Silver), 100 percent (Gold) and 125 percent (Platinum). Advantage goes to WorldPerks. But, if this merger goes forward, we believe that the current SkyMiles policy would prevail because it is similar to both American and United’s elite mileage bonuses.

Want more differences? WorldPerks members earn a 50 percent elite qualification bonus (not award miles) when flying Y or B class on Northwest, while SkyMiles members earn the same 50 percent bonus when flying Y, B or M fares. The difference here is that the WorldPerks bonus is for elite qualification, while the SkyMiles bonus is for award miles. Other subtle differences are that Gold and Platinum elite members of WorldPerks enjoy unlimited confirmable (one day prior) upgrades on both PerkSaver and PerkPass award tickets (a wonderful benefit) while SkyMiles Silver members enjoy unlimited companion upgrades in select fares, something that only Northwest Gold and Platinum members currently enjoy.

Fees: While we find it unfortunate that this part of frequent flyer programs is even an issue, it is a reality that the convenience of redemption is not a free ride.

If you wish to redeposit your awards you can do so for $25/$50 ( if a WorldPerks member and for $75 if a SkyMiles member, although Platinum members of both programs escape this fee.

Roughly all other fees are similar including government and airport imposed fees such as Federal Excise Tax, PFC and September 11th Security Fee and International Air Transportation Taxes. However, SkyMiles does nick members in a day and age of “e-tickets” — $75 per ticket for award redemption 20 days or less from departure (Platinum Medallions are exempt from this fee). Our best guess here? Show them the money. This means sticker shock for WorldPerks members.

Awards: When it comes to awards, there are distinct differences such as WorldPerks requiring a Saturday-night stay over with most PerkSaver awards (domestic flights) and SkyMiles offering a new Pay with Miles option. Of course, we’re pretty partial to the mixed one-way awards (PerkChoice) that Northwest recently introduced which allows members to mix one-way awards with money, while SkyMiles members can mix coach and first class awards one-way for better award availability.

There is likely no other merger that could offer the breadth of award redemptions as these two programs. Northwest might have a slight edge since they would probably continue their popular Cash & Miles options that SkyMiles members do not have. Overall, a few mileage redemption levels here and there are different such as Delta’s biz to Europe at 90,000 miles vs. 100,000 for either biz or first class in the Northwest program, but the programs’ award redemption charts match up for the most part.

As for award redemption, both programs have above average reputations for redemption. In 2006 (last year of available statistics prior to bankruptcy) Northwest flew 9.3 percent of their passengers on awards while Delta flew approximately 9.1 percent of their passengers on awards. The industry average is 7.2 percent of passengers flying on awards.

Intangibles: The most striking challenge for this merger would be who gets to keep the plastic. American Express has long been the exclusive credit card partner for Delta and the airline owes its very survival to American Express because Amex ponied up hundreds of millions of dollars in advance miles purchase to get Delta through bankruptcy.

US Bank did the same over time with Northwest, but does not have the history and favor that American Express has. Looking closely at the US Bank card and WorldPerks, you’ll discover several unique and rewarding benefits for members, such as award discounts. US Bank also offers an ATM/Check Card that earns miles (American Express does not) and US Bank for non-elites has prohibited rules such as for purchases less than or equal to $10,000, earn one mile for every $1 spent. For purchases over $10,000, you earn one mile for every $2 spent. And there is a yearly award level: If during the calendar year, purchases exceed $50,000 (WorldPerks Visa Card), $60,000 (Platinum Card) or $80,000 (Signature Card), all miles for the rest of the year are earned at the rate of one mile for every $2 spent.

In contrast, the Delta American Express card does not have these types of earnings dilution. And American Express has the popular every day double miles and the new Pay With Miles program.

In the high stakes game that plastic is for these carriers, we just don’t think there’s room enough for two credit card issuers and unfortunately, we predict that over time US Bank will be voted off the island.

Any good news? Well, since Delta is the main partner to the American Express Membership Rewards program which Northwest is not a partner with, we can see that program getting stronger with the addition of Northwest into Delta. And for all those WorldPerks members who wanted that relationship, well, while it’s a long way around, you could soon have it.

United Mileage Plus — Continental OnePass

This potential merger is an example of why we wish mergers were not pushed to happen — it brings with it more heartache and headache than any other merger. Why? In an age when a majority of members (and pundits) think that all frequent flyer programs are the same, we’ll define these two programs’ vast differences and what the result could be if our greatest fear comes true. Fact is, we’re fans of both programs for their individuality and are not convinced a combined program would be better than each is now.

It all starts with understanding the vast cultural differences of these two frequent flyer programs. While both have pursued the business traveler, they go about it in a much different manner and with differing amounts of success.

Let’s start with each airlines’ attempt to thwart the low-cost carriers. Continental introduced Continental Lite in 1993 as a pilot program that quickly got out of control with the wrong management. Among the first major airlines to launch low-fare service, it heavily promoted and trumpeted Continental Lite as an industry-leading innovation. But it turned out to be a mistake and was later cancelled, although at one point it commanded nearly 40 percent of Continental’s domestic system.

United had its turn at the concept with the introduction of Shuttle by United, a low-fare, short-haul service on the West Coast. Like Continental Lite, it represented an effort to establish a so-called airline-within-an-airline, and existed from 1994 to 2001. “U2” as it was called, was folded back into mainline United when it became clear that cost savings had not materialized to justify the separate operation of the airline. In December 2002, when United declared bankruptcy, it hinted at a revival of the Shuttle. But instead, it created a leisure destination carrier called Ted, a second generation of “airline-within-an-airline” which continues to this day. “Ted” comes from the last three letters in the United brand name, which gave rise to the joke “Ted is United without “U-N-I” — get it, you and I?

But beyond these similarities of success and failure, there is the role of the airlines’ frequent flyer programs. The biggest differences are Continental’s very generous upgrade policy vs. United’s and United’s very generous commitment to legroom with its Economy Plus seating vs. the seating in coach at Continental.

And say what you will, we’ll take Star Alliance over SkyTeam any day of the week. Don’t think we’re done with these two programs just yet, there are many more differences, so let’s take a look.

Change: With mergers come change. According to the Mileage Plus terms and conditions, United has the right to terminate the program or to change the program rules, regulations, benefits, conditions of participation or mileage levels, in whole or in part, at any time, with or without notice, even though changes may affect the value of the mileage or certificates already accumulated.

Continental on the other hand reserves the right to change any aspect of the OnePass program at any time with 60 days notice to active members or discontinue the OnePass program with six months notice to members.

We have no doubt that United’s more restrictive notice of change will rule out — but only after the 60 days notice to active OnePass members one last time.

Expiration of miles: For Mileage Plus members, accounts will never expire as long as you have account activity at least once every 18 months. This activity includes flying, using Mileage Plus partners, redeeming miles for award travel and buying or transferring miles.

OnePass miles however, currently have no expiry date. Our guess is that a combined program would have definable expiring miles under the current Mileage Plus rules.

Elite Membership: Before we discuss the different upgrades offered by the two programs, let’s start with the difference between elite mileage bonuses. Mileage Plus elite-level members earn mileage bonuses of 25 percent (Premier) and 100 percent (Premier Executive and 1K). OnePass elite-level members earn 50 percent (Silver), 100 percent (Gold) and 125 percent (Platinum). Advantage goes to OnePass.

However, if this merger goes forward, we believe that the current Mileage Plus policy would prevail because it is similar to both American and Delta’s elite mileage bonuses. And why be more generous than you need to be with less competition?

As for upgrades, Mileage Plus and OnePass come at the benefit from different directions. There’s little doubt that the upgrades OnePass offers have been a major reason for the success of the program. Unlimited complimentary upgrades for the member and companions (Gold and Platinum) goes a long way toward loyalty to this program.

But while most of the upgrade attention is on Continental, United does have an upgrade policy. For every 10,000 paid miles flown on United, members earn four free 500-mile upgrades valid for travel in Region 1 (North America, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Central America). And similar to OnePass, United offers full-fare coach upgrades on Y and B fares within this same Region 1.

The upgrade window between the two programs varies slightly, OnePass upgrading their top elites 120 hours in advance, Mileage Plus at 100 hours in advance. They are even at 72 hours upgrade advance for mid-level elites and United holds honors for base elite members with 48 advance hours vs. 24 hours for OnePass.

While we have loved the unlimited upgrades and companion upgrades over the years with OnePass, the winner of this tug-fest of benefits is anyone’s guess. We would normally tip the hat to Mileage Plus controlling this outcome, but if this merger happens because of Delta-Northwest, United will have to compete with Delta’s unlimited upgrade policy which mirrors that of Continental. Too close to call. United does offer their elite members the opportunity to purchase additional e-upgrades in 500-mile increments at $50 per upgrade.

Both programs have stealth elite levels, United with Global Services and Continental with both Chairman’s Circle and Co-Stars. It’s likely that both versions will continue with slight modifications. Other differences between the two programs are how they treat their million-mile members. OnePass does not have a formal million mile program, although a limited number of their top Platinum members have earned lifetime elite status from a promotion that OnePass offered years ago. OnePass is rumored to be near announcing a million miler program, though it is unlikely to be related to a possible merger with United.

United on the other hand has a Million Miles and Beyond program in which once you have flown one million lifetime base miles with United, you earn Premier Executive for life, two confirmed regional upgrades at the end of every year and three system-wide upgrades to be used one-class, one-way. When reaching two million miles flown, you earn additional rewards such as a lifetime Red Carpet Club membership (can you say HELLO!), a choice of several gifts and four system-wide upgrades to be used one-class, one-way. If you really have wings, flying three million miles earns even more: personalized status upgrades, another exclusive gift and four more system-wide upgrades to be used one-class, one-way. Advantage clearly is to United here and this program would certainly continue forward with any possible merger. Recently United invested in a fancy dual-lane boarding benefit which means that the only choice in the future would be what the entrance carpet color is — red or blue.

Both programs have elite qualification by segments, United’s being by flight segments and Continental’s being by points earned by air fare paid. It is likely to be United’s flight segment qualification as the survivor here.

Fees: When it comes to fees, United is all business. Cancel an award and need to redeposit your miles? United charges a flat $100 while Continental charges $50 for non-elite and $35 for Silver/Gold. Both programs do not charge their top elite members. Need to change an award? Continental charges $50 for non-elite and $35 for Silver/Gold. United charges different fees based on the time and type — some aren’t too bad, others will cost you dearly. A change of city pairs or routing connection will cost Mileage Plus members $100. However, for flight and date changes (same itinerary) there is no charge for United members unless these changes occur within 7-13 days prior ($50) or six days or less ($75). But OnePass is no saint here, they do charge a fee for award requests less than 15 days in advance which is $50 (4 to 14 days) and $75 for travel three days or less. Both these fees are $15 and $25 less for elite members with even the Platinum elites paying on this one!

We believe that with a merger United will make the rules here and OnePass members will have to cope by earning more miles when paying these fees with their Chase-issued credit card.

Awards: When it comes to awards, this is going to be tricky, but because of the 60-day change notice which we outlined before, OnePass members may be able to take advantage of some extreme award differences. For instance, in the Round the World award category, OnePass members enjoy the award at 140/220/280,000 miles for coach/business class/first and BusinessFirst. The same award on United is 200/300/400,000 miles. Advantage goes to OnePass but surely with Star Alliance being a big part of this, OnePass members will see their “value” fly away.

Little things like Continental’s stopover “rewards” for U.S. travel that are ingenious awards that allow members a way to creatively get around road blocks for award redemption will likely go away. But there is one other thing likely to go away which can’t come too soon — Continental’s insistence on a Saturday night stay over at the 25,000-mile redemption level. Actually, this might not be that easy to make go away. Many years ago United introduced a similar policy and it was overturned by some intense lobbying by this magazine. We’ve never been able to make that same case with Continental and so while it might be assumed to go away, United may revisit the Saturday night stay policy. (The concept of the restriction is to thwart business use of award redemption, those very welcome $800 fares for single and two-day travel).

Also likely to go away is the OnePass 20,000-mile short haul award for awards less than 1,500 miles roundtrip. United has a similar award for 15,000 miles for award flights less than 700 miles in distance one-way. Because American has a similar award at 15,000 miles, it’s our guess that United will stay with their status quo.

All other general domestic awards in OnePass and Mileage Plus are similar for both saver and standard miles, as are awards to Hawaii. Differences occur because United still has three-class service internationally while Continental has its popular two-class service featuring BusinessFirst. At this point, we can’t even speculate as to what will happen to the Continental product vs. United’s three-class system.

For awards to Asia, coach awards are similar while business class on United is 90,000 miles and Continental is 120,000 miles. The largest difference here is a standard award on Continental to this region is 300,000 miles while a similar award on United is 200,000 miles in business class and 240,000 miles in first class. We beg Mileage Plus to not raise the rates here and perhaps for OnePass members to see this bargain for what it is. European awards are similar with differences up to 30,000 miles for premium awards at the standard rate.

Upgrade award honors go to Continental which is consistently thousands of miles lower in their requirements. Domestic upgrades at most discounted fares match up at 30,000 miles roundtrip, although upgrades to Hawaii with United cost 5,000 miles less. To Europe, United is 60,000 miles roundtrip against most discounted coach fares while Continental is 40,000 miles roundtrip. Upgrading to Asia is 60,000 miles on United and 50,000 miles on Continental, although on both Europe and Asia flights, Continental requires a co-payment service fee to upgrade using miles.

As for award redemption, United has a slightly better history and reputation. In 2007, United released 2.2 million awards to their members and Continental released 1.5 million awards. In terms of statistics, United had 8 percent of passengers flying for free on awards while Continental had 7.2 percent of passengers flying for free (a higher percentage equates to a more generous redemption policy).

Intangibles: Continental employs a service fee system for members wishing to use their miles for upgrades — miles are only part of the redemption. These associated fees range from $200-$450 in addition to the miles when upgrading from select economy fares to BusinessFirst. American AAdvantage has already adopted this policy and we believe should this merger happen that United would adopt this Continental policy. We’re not saying we like it, we don’t, but it’s too tempting for United to pass up.

As well, we believe that United will push forward with their Economy Plus seating on Continental metal including adding a limited number of first class seats to their RJ (regional jet) system. While an expensive push forward, United has had extraordinary success with forging revenue from their Economy Plus Access program.

Another intangible is the Choices program by United’s credit card partner Chase. Since Chase is also the existing credit card partner with Continental, we easily see this program being expanded if for no other reason than the fact that Delta SkyMiles has now introduced a similar Pay With Miles program and this looks like a trend going forward.

As for the “Tums” moment. It is well known that Chase does not play well with American Express and protects their plastic turf very well. So, what happens to the OnePass relationship with American Express Membership Rewards? Well, we don’t think it looks good long term. Over the years United has resisted every recruiting attempt from Membership Rewards and given that this merger will only happen if the Delta-Northwest merger happens, then maybe it’s a draw since Membership Rewards would get Northwest in the deal with Delta. This is just one more of many relationship decisions that will need to be made by these programs once the trigger is pulled.

United Mileage Plus — US Airways Dividend Miles

Should the Continental-United scenario not fall into place because of Continental’s pride in running a very good airline, there’s always the back-to-the-drawing-board option for United to return to US Airways to “pump” themselves up.

This scenario has been brought out before since they were close to a deal at one time. The problem this time may be that US Airways has yet to settle down from their merger with America West and it just may be too soon and too much of a headache to move the cheese one more time. But don’t fool yourself — airlines will do whatever it takes to stay competitive. Same global alliance, same existing mileage partnership, so there is great familiarity with this possible pairing.

American AAdvantage — (fill in the blank)

If and only if the Delta merger happens which forces a change at United, then there’s no doubt that American will be under even more pressure to also pair up. We know from previous reports that some American Airlines shareholders are impatient with the airline wanting it to monetize some of its assets. And certainly industry consolidation would be another pressure point.

If the other two go as rumored, then that leaves American with the possibility to either rejoin former partner US Airways or strike a deal with Alaska Airlines which has a current frequent flyer and business arrangement with American. Of the two pairings, American and US Airways were the earliest to bring partnership benefits to the market. In 1998 American enabled Dividend Miles members and AAdvantage members who belong to both programs to combine miles when claiming travel awards on either airline. The pooled miles could only be used toward an award on American or US Airways, not for an award ticket on program partners.

So indeed, these airlines have virtual frequent flyer program experience and oneworld would no doubt like to have more U.S. partners to help serve their international flights into the U.S.

And as we know, US Airways also has a history with another oneworld partner — British Airways. This situation might be like a class reunion. Of course if anything were to come from this, it might tear down the current wall that both American and British Airways have toward each other in relation to their frequent flyer programs -(the second longest feud running in the industry right after the American-American Express Membership Rewards feud).

We mention only US Airways because it might be difficult for United to continue their relationship with US Airways, which is not fully compliant yet anyway, given the addition of Continental (if that happens). The reason why we suggest this is that there may be a challenge from regulatory oversight if United and their current US Airways relationship were to then try and add in Continental as a full merger. That’s way too much consolidation for the industry at this point for any government approval.

Then of course American may go with the cleaner Alaska Airlines which has a really superb reputation and leave US Airways out on its own because it still seems slightly dysfunctional from their current merger pains. Alaska provides a complimentary addition without a lot of headache and together would combine many of the best practices in frequent flyer programs today. Since Alaska is alliance agnostic, there is far less headache involved.

Bottom Line

While we could go on and on with the various scenarios, we’ve tried to give members of these programs insight into what the differences are between various merger partners along with some thoughts on where the winners and losers will be. As we hear more about any of these deals being completed, we’ll do a more in-depth comparison as well as offer advice on how to take advantage of the changes to come.

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