Business Irish

Monday 1 May 2017

Aer Lingus dismisses Ryanair's claims of illegality

AVIATION

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

AER Lingus has dismissed as "without foundation" allegations by Ryanair that the formerly state-owned airline's directors have been acting in breach of company law and stock-exchange listing rules.

Ryanair added further grist yesterday to a weeks-long attempt to force Aer Lingus to call an extraordinary general meeting, so that it can put two resolutions to shareholders: that Aer Lingus give a formal undertaking that no further funds will be put into a hugely debilitated pension fund scheme and that it will also release a confidential report prepared for its board into a controversial 2008 'leave and return' scheme.

Aer Lingus has rejected earlier calls by Ryanair, which owns just under 30pc of its rival, to convene the EGM.

In a letter to Aer Lingus company secretary Donal Moriarty yesterday, his counterpart at Ryanair, Juliusz Komorek, again called for the EGM to be held.

"Obviously, the board of Aer Lingus and your lawyers are free to make whatever representations you wish on each of the proposed resolutions, but you do not have the authority or discretion to refuse to hold this EGM," he said. "Please be advised that should your board again refuse to convene this properly requisitioned EGM, then Ryanair will pursue the directors of Aer Lingus for this breach of Irish company law and the listing rules of the Irish Stock Exchange."

But Aer Lingus responded that Ryanair's allegations that such breaches had occurred are "completely without foundation".

"The two purported EGM requisitions remain invalid and the EGM cannot be convened," it said.

"Despite our numerous, clear responses on this matter, Ryanair -- Aer Lingus's most significant competitor -- continues to use its shareholding to attempt to mislead our shareholders and harass and distract our board of management from the running of the business," it said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the High Court said Aer Lingus had the right to refuse a request by Ryanair to put the resolution regarding additional payments to the pension scheme to shareholders at its annual general meeting.

Irish Independent

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