Tuesday 12 December 2017

Aer Lingus loses court challenge to delay Ryanair takeover bid

Ryanair wants to make new bid for Aer Lingus
Ryanair wants to make new bid for Aer Lingus

Tim Healy

AER Lingus has lost its High Court challenge to prevent Ryanair making another takeover bid until next February.

Aer Lingus, which says it has spent €40m defending Ryanair's two previous unsuccessful bids, challenged a May 2013 ruling by the Irish Takeover Panel (ITP) which meant Ryanair had only to wait 12 months after its unsuccessful August 2012 takeover bid before it could make another bid.

Aer Lingus said it was being hampered in its commercial activities due to restrictions imposed by such takeover attempts.

It asked the court to rule no such bid could be launched before February next (2014), which would be 12 months after the European Commission's decision blocking the last Ryanair bid was made.

The action arose from Ryanair's third bid in July last year to win control of Aer Lingus.

That €694m offer was blocked last February by the European Commission which said the proposed merger would harm consumers by creating a dominant company on 46 routes where both airlines are competing.

OPPOSED

The ITP and Ryanair opposed Aer Lingus' application for leave to bring a High Court judicial review over the matter.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said under an EU directive governing takeovers, there was no requirement to put a moratorium on making a new bid. The fact that the application of the EU rule may give rise to a less than satisfactory consequence for Aer Lingus is not a reason to apply a meaning to the rule that it does not bear, he said.

He ruled Aer Lingus had not established substantial grounds for judicial review because it had not shown that a reading of the takeover rules by the ITP was "wrong or even questionable."

He refused leave to challenge the ITP's ruling.

Irish Independent

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