Sunday 18 February 2018

Brussels decision on Ryanair bid for Aer Lingus within a month

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The European Commission expects to decide by the end of next month whether or not it will give the green light to Ryanair's third effort to acquire rival Aer Lingus.

The commission, which has previously shot down Ryanair's first effort to buy the former state-owned carrier, said yesterday that it intends to make its decision by August 29.

It did not give any further details on the process.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary and other airlines have already met EU competition tsars in an effort to grease the takeover wheels. Ryanair has offered to pay €1.30 per Aer Lingus share in a deal that values the airline at €694m.

Ryanair, which already owns 29.8pc of Aer Lingus, launched its formal offer document for its rival last week.

It stated: "Ryanair believes that any competition concerns which the European Commission may have can be addressed by Ryanair making appropriate remedies prior to the completion of the cash offer and by significant synergies and cost efficiencies resulting from this combination."

Aer Lingus has told its shareholders to reject the offer.

Ryanair is trying to persuade the European Commission that the aviation sector has changed dramatically since it made its first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2006. The commission rejected that bid, arguing that there were too many competition concerns and that a combined entity would control the bulk of air passenger traffic out of Dublin.

Observers have said it's difficult to see how the commission might change its mind this time around, even allowing for the fact that it rubber-stamped other deals such as the merger of British Airways and Iberia.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said last month that Ryanair's latest offer for Aer Lingus would have to be looked at "from scratch". He acknowledged that the industry landscape may have altered significantly since the commission last blocked the Ryanair approach.

Irish Independent

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