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Fastjet investors block attempt to remove chairman

By Reuters | June 29th 2016

Fastjet Plc investors voted to retain Chairman Colin Child, defeating a move by the African budget carrier's second-largest shareholder to force out a second top executive within three months.

The airline's London-listed shares fell to a record low after the company said it would have to raise funds to ensure that it had sufficient working capital.

About 33 million votes were cast against the removal of Child as executive officer and director, while roughly 9.6 million were cast in favour, Fastjet said in a statement. The company did not disclose corresponding percentage figures.

EasyGroup Holdings Ltd, controlled by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, had urged shareholders to remove Child, saying that the chairman had failed to relocate the airline's head office from Gatwick to Tanzania.

The investor had also criticised Child for the airline's high cost base that jeopardised its ability to stay solvent, after using similar arguments to push for the untimely departure of former CEO Ed Winter in March.

EasyGroup, which holds a 12.6 percent stake in Fastjet, declined to comment.

Launched in 2012, Fastjet offers "no frills" flights to undercut larger carriers, seeking to copy the model pioneered by Stelios-founded easyJet Plc and Ryanair Holdings Plc.

However, the airline has struggled in the face of tough conditions in its home market of Tanzania. The company warned in March that full-year results would be well below market estimates and it no longer expected to be cash flow positive in 2016.

The carrier said on Tuesday that trading environment had remained challenged and forecast passenger numbers of 390,000 for the first half ending June 30, compared with 363,726 a year earlier.

"...Passenger numbers remain lower than expected. Whilst domestic routes within Tanzania are showing signs of recovery international services remain difficult," Fastjet said.

Fastjet had remained cash flow negative, despite seeing some benefits from its reduction of routes and fleet size, it added.

Fastjet's shares fell as much as 34 percent to 18.8 pence after the airline said it had started the fundraising process and expected to complete it in July. They later recovered some losses to trade down about 15 percent.

Nico Bezuidenhout, who is to join as CEO from rival Mango Airlines, had identified a number of possible changes, the company said, without elaborating.

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