Friday 20 October 2017

Transport Minister: Government 'yet to be convinced' on Aer Lingus takeover

Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

The Government "remain to be convinced" on the merits of IAG's takeover bid for Aer Lingus, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has revealed.

He said the interdepartmental group, which is advising on the offer, have held a second meeting with International Airlines Group.

This group comprises representatives from the Departments of Transport, Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and NewERA, which provides corporate financial expertise for the Government.

It is tasked with examining the issues around an offer for the State's shareholding in Aer Lingus.

However, Mr Donohoe told independent.ie these discussions failed to allay concerns in relation to a potential sale of the airline.

"IAG have laid out the circumstances in which they would be prepared to make a formal bid.

"However, we as a shareholder remain to be convinced regarding the merits of what they're putting forward.

"As I have said all along, we will be evaluating far more than a share price, in relation to any decision that we make."

He said they are currently in the process of "clarifying matters in relation to their proposed offer."

However, he could not say when a final decision will be made.

"It's not something that I can put a timeframe on. This is something that has been driven by IAG themselves," he added.

He also said today's announcement by Aer Lingus that it is seeking to cut 150 jobs was a decision made solely by the board of the airline.

Asked whether he believes the announcement is in any way connected with the bid from British Airways owner IAG, he said: "I believe it to be entirely separate from the other work that is underway."

"That's what the board of Aer Lingus have said, and much of that work is a consequence of changes they have been making, to improve the financial viability of the company.

"I'm aware this forms part of a process they've had underway for some time; it is a decision for them, and they're implementing it in an independent way."

He was speaking this evening at Bus Eireann's unveiling of a new upmarket fleet of coaches.

It has invested over €9.2m in 20 new coaches as part of Expressway's 'Like a car, only better' campaign.

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