Virgin leads bid to buy Flybe for just £2.2m

Flybe plane

Virgin leads bid to buy Flybe for just £2.2m

The offer values the carrier at 1p a share, a 94 per cent discount to company's closing share price of 16.38p last night when it was valued at £35.6 million.

Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group have confirmed an agreement to purchase struggling regional carrier Flybe.

Flybe will combine with Stobart Airways in a joint venture called Connect Airways.

It will lend £20m to keep Flybe afloat and following completion of the acquisition will provide a further £80m to invest in its business and support its growth, as well as a contribution of Stobart Air.

Flybe's bosses publicly put the company up for sale in November after a profit warning in October prompted plans to cut costs and reduce its flights.

Warwick Brady, boss of Southend Airport owner Stobart Group, advised by Barclays, said the takeover is an "excellent opportunity" to grow passenger numbers at the airport, and to "play an active role in United Kingdom regional flying".

The combined group will also operate independently to Virgin Atlantic under one management team, and will be 40 per cent owned by Cyrus Capital Partners, with Stobart Aviation holding 30 per cent, and 30 per cent by Virgin Atlantic Limited.

Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said: "Flybe plays a vital role in the UK's transport infrastructure with a United Kingdom regional network which positions it well to benefit from growing demands from long haul carriers for passenger feeder traffic".

Several airlines including Stobart and Virgin have been mentioned in recent weeks as being in discussion with Flybe.

"However, the industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit". At the same time, Flybe suffered from a number of legacy issues that are being addressed but are still adversely affecting cashflows.

The suitors said they would "secure the long-term future of Flybe, to the benefit of local communities, customers and its people".

The consortium's bid, if accepted by shareholders, would seek to feed regional customers to the long-haul networks of Virgin Atlantic and its American joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines, at Heathrow and Manchester airports.

"It will allow us to continue to work with Flybe and provides an excellent opportunity to continue to grow passenger numbers at London Southend Airport".

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