APRIL 1ST, 2015

Fastjet raises £50mln to build African airline network

African airline Fastjet (LON:FJET) is to raise at least £50mln from new and existing investors as it expands its network across the continent.

The funding, which more than triples Fastjet’s current market value, is being carried out through a book build by stockbrokers Liberum and WH Ireland.

AIM-listed, the low-cost carrier started flying in its current form in 2012 and is backed by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has a 10% stake.

It was not clear if the easyJet (LON:EZJ) founder was putting in more money today, though reports this morning suggested he would maintain his stake at around 10%.

Fastjet currently operates largely in Tanzania but it has applied for licences in Zambia and Zimbabwe and has earmarked expansion into Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

The new money will fund an expansion of its current fleet of three Airbus A319 aircraft through the acquisition of used jets.

Fastjet said it wanted to run a fleet of 40 aircraft between multiple destinations when it first set out its blueprint for a low cost African carrier.

Since it started up, however, it has been dogged by legacy issues and problems getting access in countries where it is seen as a threat to state-run operators.

Tanzania has been a success and helped by lower aero fuel prices the operation there posted its first ever monthly profit in December, while also carrying its millionth passenger.

The group added it has appointed Clive Carver as its new interim chairman, a post held until now by chief executive Ed Winter. A new permanent non-executive chairman is being sought.

The funding is expected to be at a price of around 1p ahead of a share consolidation that will see 100 shares consolidated into one.

Shares are currently trading at 1.15p.