“Flybe rescued by Virgin and Stobart”

Wonder where its profits will end up?

“Shareholders in Flybe will receive 1p a share, while the consortium, which also includes venture capital firm Cyrus, will inject £100m.
It will operate under the Virgin Atlantic brand.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46834827

Business rates killing high street shops

“Leading retailers called for a major overhaul of business rates yesterday after Next suffered a sharp slump in store sales in the run up to Christmas.

With pressure mounting on ministers to reform the outdated tax, fashion chain Next said sales in its 500-plus stores fell 9.2 per cent over the crucial festive period.

In a clear sign of how shopping habits have shifted, the company said online sales soared 15.2 per cent in the same period, meaning overall revenues were up. …”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6556311/Retailers-demand-major-overhaul-business-rates-Christmas-sales-slump-9-2-cent.html

Branson for Flybe?

“Virgin Atlantic Airways is in talks to acquire regional airline Flybe Group Plc (FLYB.L), Sky News reported on Thursday, a week after Flybe said it was in talks to sell itself.

A tie-up with Flybe would provide opportunities to feed passenger traffic into Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network and access valuable take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport, Sky News reported, citing unnamed sources.

Virgin Atlantic’s main business is UK-to-U.S. flights. The company is owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and U.S. airline Delta Air Lines.

The report did not mention any financial details. Flybe has a market capitalization of about 21 million pounds, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Flybe and Virgin Atlantic declined to comment.

Flybe issued a profit warning in October citing weakening demand, higher fuel costs and a weaker British pound.

Sky News had previously reported that Stobart Group Ltd (STOB.L) was likely to be one of the potential suitors for Flybe.”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-flybe-group-m-a-virgin-atlantic/virgin-atlantic-in-talks-to-buy-flybe-sky-news-idUKKCN1NR27Y

“Flybe calls in crisis experts as insolvency fears mount”

“Flybe has called in accountants from KPMG as the low-cost airline attempts to save itself from collapse.

Britain’s biggest regional airline sounded the alarm yesterday by putting itself up for sale. The announcement came as half-year profits plunged and the company’s auditor, PwC, warned of “significant doubt” over its future.

KPMG has been appointed to provide Flybe with advice on its cash flow. City sources said the Monarch Airlines administrator is the frontrunner to take on a potential insolvency. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/11/14/flybe-puts-sale-profits-plunge/

Flybe puts itself up for sale

The airline employs around 1,000 people at Exeter airport and the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point relies heavily on the company’s HQ being in East Devon.

Here is the latest report of Exeter airport’s consultative committee in September 2018 was notable for unusually having no Flybe representative attending:

https://www.exeter-airport.co.uk/content/uploads/1808_Consultative.pdf

“One of Exeter’s most important employers, Flybe, has put itself up for sale – partly because it’s been hit hard by Brexit-related uncertainty and currency fluctuations.

The move was announced to the stock market this morning.

Flybe, which employs around a thousand staff at its Devon HQ, was linked with Stobart earlier this year but no deal resulted.

The airline’s share price and profitability have struggled for years.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-46102129

“Flybe ‘up for sale’ weeks after profit warning”

“Flybe is reported to have put itself up for sale less than a month after issuing a dramatic profit warning.

The regional airline is expected to say on Wednesday that its board is exploring a sale or a merger with a rival, according to Sky News.
Last month, the airline warned full-year losses would reach £22m due to a combination of falling consumer demand, a weaker pound and higher fuel costs.

The airline’s shares have fallen by almost 75% since September.

The Exeter-based airline is now valued at around £25m, far below the £215m it was valued at when it floated on the stock exchange in 2010.

Stobart Group – which pulled out of a bid to buy Flybe earlier this year after the airline rejected its offer – could be a possible purchaser, according to Sky.

Flybe, whose roots date back to 1979, has 78 planes operating from smaller airports such as London City, Southampton and Norwich to destinations in the UK and Europe.

It serves around eight million passengers a year, but has been struggling to recover from a costly IT overhaul and has been trying to reduce costs.
Last month, Flybe’s chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said it was reviewing “further capacity and cost-saving measures”.

“Stronger cost discipline is starting to have a positive impact across the business, but we aim to do more in the coming months, particularly against the headwinds of currency and fuel costs,” she said at the time.

The airline is due to issue its interim results on Wednesday. The company declined to comment on the sale reports.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46203183

UK fish quotas and the Carters of Greendale … anyone remember this

Wonder what the situation is now?

“In a small marina in Exmouth sits the Nina May. The 4.8m fibreglass boat is not much to look at, with just a small outboard motor it pales against the luxurious sailing boats that crowd the harbour.

The boat is something of a legend amongst fishermen in the south west. Many have heard about this mysterious, tiny vessel but few have ever seen it sail.

That is because the Nina May has a secret. The tiny boat holds a massive amount of FQA, the unit used to dole out the right to fish in the UK.

In fact the boat holds nearly a fifth of all fishing rights for the South West of England, and has much more quota than all but one of the much larger fishing boats in the area.

But those figures seem to defy logic. According to government records, that amount of FQA equates to around 1,500 tonnes of fish a year. That means the tiny boat would need to fish an average of four tonnes of fish a day!

Greenpeace spoke to Robin Carter, who runs F W S Carter Limited, the fishing company that owns the boat along with 12 other, much larger vessels.

Carter explained that he transferred the FQA licenses onto the tiny boat and then sends out his bigger boats to write off their catches against that allowance.

By doing that Carter’s fishermen can essentially fish without risking being penalised on quota should they be caught breaking the rules.

“Why it’s on the Nina May is that if you get an offence, a log book offence, or some silly little offence, the ministry would freeze your licence. You wouldn’t be allowed to sell your licence or sell your quota on it.

“We took the precaution – because we got caught once – of taking the fish off all the boats and just putting it one the one boat.

“It’s on there for no other reason than that licence will never get frozen because it just goes in and out of the river and hopefully never commits an offence.”

Local news reports from 2011 state that a Robin Carter was charged £4,040 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to setting an illegal net off the coast near Sidmouth.

The chairman of the magistrates court which ruled on the case said that Robin Carter was an ‘experienced fisherman’ and described his actions as ‘deliberate and reckless.’

The company made an operating profit of £2,628,000 last year.

“We fish about 90% of the quota we have and lease the rest. We use the Marine Management Organisations set rates or the landing price to guide us, but markets prices move. It’s all about supply and demand. Quota is a currency you can swap,” Carter added.

The Marine Management Organisation, the government body that oversees fishing allocation, told Unearthed there are no regulatory restrictions on the number of FQA units that can be held on a single licence.

It said it has significantly improved the transparency of FQAs making data available through the FQA register which also enables FQA holders to transfer their FQA units electronically subject to Quota Management Rules.

Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation researches the economics of European quota systems. He says this type of hoarding goes against the spirit of the system.

“FQAs were intended to correspond to the actual fishing activity of vessels, but the case of the Nina May highlights just how far we’ve moved from matching quota with fishing activity. This practice may not be illegal, but it’s also not fulfilling any objective of the quota system, especially as many vessels are desperately trying to get access more quota and the government is trying to ensure that all existing quota is used,” said Carpenter.

Carter does not think there is anything wrong with holding so much fishing rights on a tiny dinghy.

“It’s an asset we’ve invested in for the last 20 years,” he explains. “Others sold themselves out of the industry- some people sold it off to foreign nationals- or sold it to us. We saw this system coming and that’s why we invested in quota.”

https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2016/05/15/investigation-why-this-tiny-boat-has-more-fishing-rights-than-many-trawlers/