Monday 23 July 2018

Stobart grounds Flybe takeover plan

Graeme Buchanan, chief executive of Stobart Air, and Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group, in front of an Aer Lingus Regional plane
Graeme Buchanan, chief executive of Stobart Air, and Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group, in front of an Aer Lingus Regional plane
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

UK transport group Stobart has terminated efforts to buy regional airline Flybe, saying it wasn't in its shareholders' interests to pursue a bid at a higher offer.

Shares in Flybe slumped more than 23pc, giving it a market capitalisation of £77m (€88.2m).

Stobart's air division, which is based in Dublin, will continue to cooperate on its franchise arrangement with Flybe, however. Stobart Air also operates the Aer Lingus Regional service on a franchise basis.

"Stobart Group and Flybe have been unable to reach agreement on satisfactory terms," said Stobart yesterday.

It added: "The board of Stobart Group has determined that it is not in its shareholders' best interests to increase its latest proposal for Flybe above the level which was rejected by the board of Flybe.

"Given this, Stobart Group confirms that it does not intend to make an offer for Flybe."

In a long-expected move, Stobart made a play for Flybe back in February. Stobart, whose CEO is ex-Easyjet chief operating officer Warwick Brady, has placed significant emphasis on growing the group via its aviation interests.

Stobart also owns London Southend Airport.

Flybe, whose CEO is former CityJet boss Christine Ourmieres-Widener, has been grappling with a challenging aviation market, with downward fare pressure across Europe and tough competition from rivals such as Ryanair and Easyjet all weighing on the operator.

Flybe issued two profit warnings last year, but in a January trading update, Ms Ourmieres-Widener said the carrier was making progress in optimising its fleet and route network.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business