| 17.7°C Dublin

Ex-CEO aimed to use listed firm to buy Stobart Air stake


High-flyer: Current Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady

High-flyer: Current Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady

High-flyer: Current Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady

Ex-Stobart CEO Andrew Tinkler hatched a plan in 2017 that would have seen him and backers buy a majority stake in Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air and then use a stock market vehicle to take a 49pc stake in the carrier.

The move was also designed to remove the then loss-making Stobart Air from the group's balance sheet and open the door to an acquisition of Flybe.

The plan was revealed in court proceedings last week as Mr Tinkler lost a London court case where it was ruled he had acted in breach of his fiduciary duty. The court also found that Mr Tinkler's dismissal from the Stobart board was lawful.

It was the culmination of an acrimonious bust-up between the Stobart board, including CEO Warwick Brady, and Mr Tinkler and his backers.

The plans for spinning Stobart Air off from the group structure were devised by Mr Tinkler and Mr Brady. Before their falling out, Mr Brady - who became Stobart CEO in May 2017 - and Mr Tinkler visited Philip Day, CEO of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill retail group, to discuss the potential involvement of Mr Day in a plan to buy Flybe.

Mr Day subsequently became pivotal in the Stobart boardroom bust-up. Mr Tinkler tried to have Mr Day installed as chairman during the summer showdown, in a move backed by Neil Woodford.

The court case revealed that the deal proposed by Mr Tinkler in 2017 would have seen him, Mr Woodford and Mr Day own a majority share of a company listed on London's NEX Exchange, which would have held 49pc of Stobart Air, with the remainder held between the investors and Stobart Group. However, Mr Woodford and Mr Day both told the court the proposed transaction wasn't one they would have pursued.

Stobart is currently part of a consortium with Virgin Atlantic trying to buy Flybe.

Irish Independent