Flybe confirms shareholder call for removal of chairman, sale investigation

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(Reuters) - Flybe Group Plc confirmed on Monday its largest shareholder had urged the airline to remove Chairman Simon Laffin and investigate its cut-price sale to a consortium.

Hosking Partners LLP, which owns 18.72 percent of Flybe according to Refinitv Eikon data, has asked the company to appoint industry veteran Eric Kohn as director, Flybe said.

Earlier this month, Flybe agreed to be bought by a group comprising Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital for $2.8 million (2.13 million pounds), a 94 percent discount to the stock’s closing price a day before the sale announcement.

The company, which operates routes from about 25 British airports, including domestic connections to London’s Heathrow, has struggled with higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and uncertainties presented by Brexit.

Flybe said on Monday Hosking had asked for a general meeting to consider its resolutions. Sky News first reported the news on Friday.

The company reaffirmed its confidence in Laffin, and said it believes that “any independent scrutiny of its conduct will support the board’s decision-making.”

Laffin, who previously worked in senior positions at Safeway Plc, Aegis Group plc, Mitchells & Butlers plc and Northern Rock plc, has chaired Flybe for more than 5 years.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty