Flybe to be bought by consortium of industry giants

Flybe shareholders urged to accept Virgin Atlantic's £2.2m takeover offer

Flybe has recommended shareholders accept a cut-price £2.2m takeover offer from a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic, after the regional airline struggled with rising fuel costs, currency volatility and political uncertainty.

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.

Virgin, Cyrus Capital and airport operator Stobart Group Ltd. agreed to purchase Flybe for 2.2 million pounds ($2.8 million), according to a statement Friday.

Lucien Farrell, partner of Cyrus, which helped Virgin sell its Virgin America arm to Alaska Airlines previous year, added: "We believe Flybe's United Kingdom regional focus and high quality management, together with Virgin Atlantic's dedication to the best customer experience and Stobart Group's expertise in regional flying, will produce a world-class airline".

"The industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit", Christine Ourmières-Widener, chief executive of Flybe, said.

Cyrus will own a controlling 40% stake in the new company, while Virgin and Stobart will take 30% each.

Current Flybe shareholders will receive one pence per share.

"We have been affected by all of these factors which have put pressure on short-term financial performance", she said.

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"By combining to form a larger, stronger, group, we will be better placed to withstand these pressures".

Cyrus, Stobart and Virgin Atlantic said it would provide a £20m bridge loan facility to support Flybe's ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

Under the terms of the transaction, Stobart Aviation will enter into two further agreements to dispose of the entire issued share capital of each of Everdeal Holdings - the holding company of Stobart Air - and Propius Holdings, which operates as Stobart Aviation's aircraft leasing business. "We aim to provide an even better service to our customers and secure the future for our people".

Flybe will continue to serve customers and communities across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Virgin has been struggling to feed its long-haul flights with passengers from other United Kingdom cities and Chief Executive Officer Shai Weiss said the deal will help.

It will operate under the Virgin Atlantic brand, marking a return by Virgin to domestic flights, following a failed attempt five years ago.

"In the near future, this will only increase, through our expanded joint venture partnership with Air France-KLM".

"The combined entity will be a powerful combination with sufficient scale to compete effectively in the United Kingdom and European airline markets", added the former Easyjet executive.

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