Thursday 23 November 2017

Denis O'Brien flies out of Aer Lingus stake

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

Businessman Denis O'Brien has sold out of his stake in Aer Lingus.

Mr O'Brien had held close to 4pc of the airline at one point, but began selling down his stake earlier this year.

On Friday he is thought to have sold off his remaining 2.4pc stake in the carrier.

At yesterday's closing price of €1.37, Mr O'Brien would have taken in close to €17.5m for the 12.8m shares sold on the day.

On July 31 he sold 4.7m of shares, reducing his stake below the 3pc threshold where holdings must be disclosed by companies under stock exchange rules. He is thought to have sold another tranche of shares prior to that.

Two years ago Mr O'Brien said he invested in Aer Lingus to thwart Ryanair's ambition to take over the airline, a deal that could have created a single dominant Irish carrier. At the time Mr O'Brien said he didn't want a situation where investors in Ireland had to fly in on the Aer Lingus rival.

"I didn't think it was a great idea for Ryanair to be flying foreign direct investors into Ireland," Mr O'Brien said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

"Most people when they come to invest in Ireland they have a strong impression when they fly on Aer Lingus that this is a good country to invest in," he said.

Mr O'Brien is believed to have first bought into Aer Lingus in 2006.

Friday's move raised speculation that an overseas investor such as Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad may try to increase its holding.

However, it is believed that the shares were taken up by a number of institutions rather than a single investor.

Aer Lingus shares closed up 4.8pc yesterday at €1.37 each.

Irish Independent

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