Business Irish

Sunday 17 December 2017

Aer Lingus expects more Ryanair bids

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

AER LINGUS has told the UK Competition Commission that it expects further bids from minority stakeholder Ryanair.

The expectation that rival Ryanair will launch another takeover attempt on Aer Lingus is revealed in preliminary findings released yesterday from the watchdog's investigation into the competition issues surrounding Ryanair's 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus directors think Michael O'Leary's airline will bid again to try and prevent its smaller rival from engaging in any mergers or acquisitions and to ultimately prevent a full takeover of the airline by any other party.

Aer Lingus claims further bids are also likely because Ryanair's existing stake makes it less expensive for the company to bid for Aer Lingus than to bid for another airline.

The investigation could ultimately mean that Ryanair is forced to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus, which it has held for more than six years. The UK competition watchdog has already definitively said that Ryanair "has material influence" over Aer Lingus that "could reduce competition".

The preliminary findings also reveal that Aer Lingus said it was prevented from disposing of its Heathrow landing slots on one occasion because of Ryanair's minority stake.

Irish Independent

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