Business Irish

Saturday 10 December 2016

Aer Lingus now owned by IAG as offer period closes

Published 02/09/2015 | 08:33

'IAG, headed by Willie Walsh yesterday welcomed Ryanair's decision to sell'
'IAG, headed by Willie Walsh yesterday welcomed Ryanair's decision to sell'

IAG's €1.36bn takeover offer for Aer Lingus has formally closed, with the British Airways owner having secured acceptances in respect of just over 98pc of shares in the former state-owned airline.

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IAG commenced its takeover battle for Aer Lingus last December. Its chief executive, Willie Walsh, intends to detail the group's plans for Aer Lingus at an investor conference in November.

Aer Lingus shareholders who accepted the offer will receive payment for their shares within 14 days, according to IAG. Recipients include the Government, which owned 25.1pc of Aer Lingus, and Ryanair, which owned almost 30pc.

IAG, which also owns Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling, plans to use Aer Lingus to expand its transatlantic services via Dublin.

Earlier this month the long-expected €1.4bn deal was deemed "wholly unconditional" after Ryanair formally agreed to sell its shares in Aer Lingus.

At the time, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, who is also a former CEO of Aer Lingus, said his firm would "like to welcome Aer Lingus into IAG".

"It will remain an iconic Irish brand with its base and management team in Ireland but will now grow as part of a strong, profitable airline group. This means new routes and more jobs benefitting customers, employees and the Irish economy and tourism," he said.

IAG's bid of €1.4bn means Aer Lingus investors will receive a payout worth €2.50 per share. They have already received a dividend of 5c also. According to IAG, shareholders who had accepted the deal by today will receive payment for their shares no later than September 1.

As part of the deal, Aer Lingus will now start the process of removing itself from the Irish Stock Exchange. The shares are to be delisted by September 17.

The agreement effectively brings to an end a takeover saga that has gone on for nine months. In December last year, it was revealed that Aer Lingus had rejected a €1.23bn offer from IAG for the airline. IAG came back with a €1.28bn offer which was also rejected. By the end of January, IAG had upped its bid to €1.36bn, which the Aer Lingus board accepted.

That was only the start of the saga, however. The Government said it would not sell the State's 25pc stake in Aer Lingus unless it had "cast iron" guarantees about the future of the airline and its valuable landing slots at Heathrow Airport. In response, Mr Walsh said he would give "legally binding" guarantees for the next five years. The Government ultimately accepted the IAG offer.

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