Virgin Express [Euronext Brussels: VIRE], the Belgian
low fare carrier, is pleased to announce that it will raise new equity finance to extinguish
existing loan facilities.
The structure of the fund raising is expected to be a placing and open offer of
approximately 35 million new ordinary shares for cash to existing shareholders at €1 per
share, being a discount of approximately 60% to closing price on Euronext on 31st
January 2003, of €2.5 per share to the company’s majority shareholder, Virgin Sky
Investments Limited (“VSIL”), but with the opportunity for other qualifying shareholders
(i.e. IDR holders) to participate in the open offer at the same price in proportion to their
current shareholding. Qualifying shareholders wishing to maintain their existing interest
in the company will have the opportunity to subscribe for 29 new ordinary shares for
every four existing shares held. The net result of the placing and open offer is that the
loan of approximately €35 million from Barfair Limited, a company in the same group of
companies as VSIL, will be reimbursed in full.
The new equity fund raising is subject to shareholders of the company passing certain
resolutions, which will give effect to the placing and open offer. Details of the placing
and open offer and the resolutions to be passed by shareholders will be set out in a
prospectus to be published by the company in due course.
About Virgin Express:
Virgin Express, voted best short haul airline in 2002 at the TM Travel Awards, is the
largest carrier at Brussels Airport and operates 12 Boeing 737s.
At present, the low fare carrier offers flights from Brussels to a wide variety of major
European destinations: Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Faro, Geneva, Gothenburg,
Lisbon, Madrid, Malaga, Milan, Nice, Rome and Stockholm. From 30th March 2003,
Virgin Express will also offer its new services on the Rome-Amsterdam, Brussels-Bordeaux,
Brussels-London and Brussels-Palma de Mallorca routes.
Virgin Express made an operating profit of €1.5 million in 2001 and is forecasting profit
again for 2002.
With more than 90% of its flights departing and arriving on time during 2002, Virgin
Express is Europe`s most punctual airline.
David Hoare, Chairman of Virgin Express, commented, “Over the past two years we
have built Belgium’s most profitable “value for money” airline, carrying more passengers
than any other, and with an on time performance over 90%. We hope that all eligible
shareholders will support this fund raising and we are very pleased to have the full
support of our largest shareholder, Virgin Sky Investments Limited.”