Eversheds and Cleary secure top roles on €150m Flybe-Ryanair deal

Eversheds and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton have advised on a €150m (£128m) deal that could see airline Flybe acquire 43 short-haul routes operated by Aer Lingus.

The Irish carrier is currently subject to a €694m (£592m) takeover offer from budget airline Ryanair. However, the deal is under scrutiny by the European Commission due to concern a deal could create a monopoly on 46 routes out of Ireland.  

But ahead of any decision by the commission, Ryanair has struck a provisional agreement with Exeter-based Flybe that would see the latter set up a new business called Flybe Ireland in the event of a successful takeover bid.  

Eversheds advised Flybe on the deal with a team led by corporate partner and Flybe client partner Simon Masters. 

A team from Cleary, consisting of corporate partners Sam Bagot and James Modrall, along with competition partner Nicholas Levy, is advising Ryanair. 

As part of the deal, Ryanair will transfer to Flybe Ireland 43 of Aer Lingus’ European routes, a minimum of nine Airbus A320 aircraft and sufficient flight crew and support staff to maintain the routes. 

In addition, Ryanair will capitalise the new business with a €100m (£85m) cash injection as well as all forward sales and cash liabilities estimated at a further €50m (£43m) to assist Flybe Ireland in establishing itself as a competitor in Ireland. 

Masters said: “Flybe is one of Eversheds’ most valued clients, which we have advised for many years. This is the latest in a series of recent deals we have done with Flybe and, if this proposal is implemented, it will greatly assist Flybe in expanding its European presence.”

In recent years, Eversheds has advised Flybe on its joint venture with Finnair to acquire Finnish Commuter Airlines, its listing on the London Stock Exchange and its acquisition of low-cost regional service BA Connect from British Airways.