The board of Flybe has given chairman Simon Laffin its full backing despite an apparent attempt by the airline’s largest shareholder to oust him.
A Virgin Atlantic-led consortium, also comprising Stobart Group and private equity firm Cyrus Capital, swooped on the embattled domestic carrier earlier this month.
The Connect Airways consortium made a £2.2 million, one-pence-per-share offer for Flybe on January 11, a near 95% discount on Flybe’s then 16.4p share value.
The deal was later restructured and revised up to £2.8 million to allow the consortium to keep Flybe afloat with an immediate £10 million cash injection.
However, the revision to the recommended deal does not require shareholder approval, and has sparked the ire of Flybe’s largest shareholder, Hosking Partners, understood to own almost 19% of the carrier.
Hosking wrote to Flybe on Friday, Sky News reports, demanding an extraordinary general meeting to depose Laffin and install Eric Kohn instead to lead an investigation of the sale process to date.
In a trading update issued on Monday morning (January 28), the Flybe board acknowledged the request from Hosking Partners while throwing its collective weight behind Laffin during what it described as a “extremely difficult and challenging period” for the carrier.
“Flybe Group plc notes the recent media reporting that Hosking Partners LLP has requested the Company convene a general meeting to consider resolutions to appoint Eric Kohn as a director and remove Simon Laffin as a director.
“The company confirms on Friday (January 25) it received correspondence from Hosking Partners LLP to this effect, which also included a proposed resolution the directors appoint Mr Kohn to investigate the sales process from November 14, 2018, to January 15, 2019.
“The board reaffirms it has acted at all times in the interests of its shareholders and all its stakeholders, through an extremely difficult and challenging period. The board continues to have full confidence in its chairman, Simon Laffin, and believes that any independent scrutiny of its conduct will support the board’s decision-making.”