Friday 30 September 2016

Ryanair tight-lipped on Aer Lingus stake as it releases full-year results

Published 26/05/2015 | 02:30

Aer Lingus and Ryanair aircraft sit on the runway at Dublin International Airport
Aer Lingus and Ryanair aircraft sit on the runway at Dublin International Airport
Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair

Ryanair will not reveal any final decision this morning regarding the future of its near 30pc stake in Aer Lingus, the Irish Independent understands.

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Coupled with Ryanair's stance on attempting to reverse a decision by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to make Ryanair cut its holding in Aer Lingus to no more than 5pc, it means the €1.36bn takeover effort by IAG for Aer Lingus could be set to rumble on for a number of weeks.

Ryanair releases its full-year results today, and while chief executive Michael O'Leary is certain to reference the Aer Lingus takeover saga, he's not expected to reveal whether Ryanair will sell the stake in its smaller rival.

Speculation has mounted that the Government, which has now received a report by a special steering group established to weigh a sale of the State's 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus, will make a decision on a sale within the next couple of weeks.

IAG first made its takeover approach to buy Aer Lingus back in December.

Since the end of January, the steering group has been evaluating the proposals.

That has also involved contact with Brussels to ensure any deals cut with IAG on issues such as the use of Heathrow landing slots and a veto over their sale, don't fall foul of competition rules.

News agency Bloomberg reported that the European Commission hasn't raised any initial major issues with those planned deals.

But IAG wants an irrevocable undertaking from both the Government and Ryanair that they will sell their stakes, before the British Airways owner makes a formal offer to buy Aer Lingus.

Ryanair has said its board will only make a decision when IAG makes a formal offer.

The Government might also be slow to make a decision until Ryanair signifies its intention on the issue.

Ryanair is fighting to reverse the CMA decision to make it sell most of its Aer Lingus shares.

At the moment, Ryanair also has to seek permission from the CMA to sell its Aer Lingus shares to IAG.

However, Ryanair has not initiated any contact with the CMA about seeking such permission, it's believed.

Unions also still have to be swayed by the Aer Lingus takeover plan before the Government approves a deal.

Fianna Fail transport spokesman Timmy Dooley yesterday called on Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe to make the steering group report on Aer Lingus available to the Oireachtas Transport Committee.

Irish Independent

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