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Travel industry news

08 Feb 2019

BY James Chapple

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Flybe shareholders warned to accept Virgin deal or face losing investment

Flybe’s directors have warned shareholders Flybe Group Plc could be wound up if they do not back a proposed takeover by Virgin Atlantic-led consortium Connect Airways.

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Flybe shareholders warned to accept Virgin deal or face losing investment

The airline on Thursday (February 7) told investors failure to approve the deal would result in its directors taking steps to wind up the company, which would likely result in them receiving “no value” for their shares.


Flybe’s board last month (January 11) reached terms on a £2.2 million one-pence-per-share bid for the airline from Connect, which comprises Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and private equity investor Cyrus Capital.


This later rose to £2.8 million (January 15) after the deal was restructured to allow Connect to immediately pump cash into Flybe and keep it operating.


It is understood Connect has since provided at least £15 million of an initial £20 million round of funding, and has committed to a further £80 million, if necessary, as per the agreement of January 11.


The deal, though, has been rocked in recent weeks by dissent among investors, with Flybe’s largest shareholder Hosking Partners calling for director Simon Laffin to be removed and replaced with Eric Kohn, who would then lead an investigation into the sales process.


The situation has escalated this week, whereby the Flybe board issued a lengthy statement on Thursday imploring shareholders to get behind the Connect deal – or face losing anything that remains of their investment.


“If the scheme [sale] is not approved, the Flybe directors intend to take steps to wind up the company and shareholders are likely to receive no value for their shares in Flybe,” read the Flybe statement.


“Accordingly, the Flybe directors believe the terms of the acquisition remain in the best interests of Flybe shareholders as a whole and unanimously recommend Flybe shareholders vote in favour.”


And, while acknowledging shareholders’ concerns over Connect’s valuation, the board said the bid was the only viable proposal to sustain the ailing regional carrier.


“Although the price-per-share offered by Connect Airways was disappointingly low, its proposal was ultimately the only proposal capable of immediate execution to enable Flybe and the Flybe subsidiaries to continue to trade,” said the board.


A general meeting of Flybe will be held on March 4 likely to determine its fate.

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