Riddle over Bland and new airline


Exploratory talks between business-class airline Silverjet with Lufthansa and the Gibraltar Bland Group have been reported since Friday, gaining prominence with the Sunday papers.

A report in the Sunday Times quotes senior aviation industry sources as saying that cash constraints have forced the company to put its expansion plans on hold, with two new aircraft staying put with the current operator, the travel company Thomson.

Last week Silverjet told the stock market it was in discussions “that may or may not lead to an offer for the issued share capital of the company.”

Shares are at 21p, valuing the airline at £13.5 million. It was at 209p in May last year and at 112p when it floated a year earlier.

Yesterday, Lufthansa denied it was in talks with Silverjet about a possible take-over.

It was being said that the Bland group “a family-owned investment company from Gibraltar” has been linked to a bid for the Luton-based airline.

However, a source ‘close to the discussions’ has told the Travel Trade Gazette that ‘none of the names suggested publically so far were accurate.’

It could well be that the Gibraltar interest is not from Bland, but from director James Gaggero.

GB airways , as is known, was sold to easyjet for over £100 million, which means that former directors would have liquidity available.

Is Silverjet such a good buy at this point in time that it might tempt younger elements to get re-involved in the airline business? Buy at a low price, sell at a high price…

Silverjet is a British airline which describes itself as having “a highly talented management team drawn from industry executives with decades of experience running some of the world’s best airlines.”

Learning from the success of low-cost carriers, they fly a small fleet of 767s in a one class configuration.

Silverjet currently flies between London and New York and London and Dubai. “Our plan is to add other long-haul destinations over the coming years.

The TFB Mortgages Limited (“TFB”) £10 million convertible loan was obtained as part of its £22 million fundraising in November 2007.

Lawrence Hunt, Chief Executive of Silverjet, commented:

“We have a strong relationship with the Reuben brothers with whom we structured a loan of £10 million, at highly attractive rates which are highly beneficial to our business; and we are also working together on a number of joint projects relating to the future development of Silverjet.”