December 19, 2018 / 7:51 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Virgin Atlantic says takeover talks with Flybe continuing

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Dec 19 (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic Ltd said on Wednesday it was continuing to look at a range of options for Flybe Group Plc , including making a takeover offer, weeks after the British regional airline announced it was open to a sale.

Flybe said last month it was in talks with potential buyers, but added it was also looking at other options, such as further reductions in capacity and costs. Virgin Atlantic was one of the interested parties, it had said.

Virgin Atlantic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, has a trading and codeshare relationship with Flybe, and in November it said it was reviewing other options to deepen the partnership, including a possible buyout of Flybe.

Flybe, which flies 76 aircraft, has a market value of about 32.9 million pounds ($26.7 million), according to Refinitiv data. Its shares have fallen over 50 percent this year.

The talks come during a boom in global air travel and also as airlines look to consolidate because of rising running costs, largely higher fuel prices, and increased competition from budget carriers.

An acquisition of Flybe would give Virgin Atlantic, part owned by U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines Inc, access to 192 routes serving 14 countries from 75 departure points in the UK and Europe. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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