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Flybe’s Largest Investor Sells Holding as Value Doubles

Flybe Group Plc’s largest shareholder sold its entire stake, lifting the number of publicly-held shares in Europe’s largest regional airline and locking in gains after the stock more than doubled this year.

Rosedale Aviation Holdings Ltd. sold its 48.1 percent stake to existing and new shareholders in a transaction valued at 37 million pounds ($59 million), based on Flybe’s closing price yesterday. Shares were placed with institutional investors by Liberum Capital Ltd, the Exeter, England-based carrier said.

Flybe Chief Executive Officer Saad Hammad this week announced plans to cut 500 jobs, about 20 percent of payroll, amid a review of its fleet and network to restore finances hampered by high fuel costs and weak economic growth. The measures will incur additional costs this year and next.

“The turnaround of Flybe is gaining momentum,” Hammad said, calling the stock sale a “milestone” in Flybe’s history.

Flybe has tripled in value this year, following two years of negative returns after the airline’s initial public offering three years ago. The carrier, also the U.K.’s biggest domestic airline, this week posted a pretax profit of 13.8 million pounds in the first half -- which included the busiest summer months -- versus a 1.6 million-pound loss a year earlier.

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