Shareholders approve Flybe deal

Flybe shareholders approved the regional airline group’s purchase by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and the owner of Southend Airport at two meetings on Monday.

A majority of Flybe shareholders voted in favour of the offer of one pence per share or £2.2 million by Connect Airways, a holding company made up of Virgin Atlantic, Southend Airport-owner Stobart Group and US hedge fund Cyrus Capital.

The takeover should be completed next Monday, March 11, subject to its formal sanctioning by a court at the end of this week

The Connect Airways consortium already owns the airline Flybe having paid £2.8 million for the carrier in a deal completed on February 22.

Flybe will be rebranded as Virgin Atlantic but be operated separately by Connect Airways. Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener will join the new company.

The takeover was approved despite the opposition of Flybe’s two largest shareholders – investment group Hosking Partners and former Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler.

In a statement, Flybe described the Connect Airways deal as “the only viable option available to the company which provides the security the business needs to continue to trade successfully”.

It warned it would be wound up if the deal was not completed.

Flybe has already drawn £15 million in working capital from Connect Airways, which is 30% owned by Virgin Atlantic, 30% by Stobart and 40% by Cyrus Capital.

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