Business Irish

Wednesday 24 January 2018

'No approach' yet to buy State's Aer Lingus stake

John Mulligan

The Department of Finance has dismissed rumours that it has been approached by a consortium of investors interested in acquiring the Government's 25pc stake in Aer Lingus.

There has been speculation that London-based financial services firm Cenkos Securities has been engaged by a group that believes Aer Lingus is currently undervalued.

Cenkos was reported to have sent an informal letter to the Department of Finance detailing the consortium's proposals a couple of weeks ago.

However, the Department of Finance said yesterday that no such contact had been made with it, and the Department of Transport had not received any communication from Cenkos on behalf of the consortium either.

A spokesman for Cenkos was not immediately contactable.

The rumours follow conjecture over the weekend that Ryanair could be mulling over a third offer for Aer Lingus.

Ryanair owns just under 30pc of the former state-owned carrier. Ryanair said yesterday that if the new Government approached it regarding the Aer Lingus stake, then it "would be open" to it. However, the airline denied it was working on a third bid.

Taxpayers' stake

If the Government was to offload the taxpayers' stake in Aer Lingus, it would almost certainly have to do so as part of a transparent auction process, rather than selecting a buyer via any ad hoc approach made to it.

The recent McCarthy report on state assets recommended that the Aer Lingus stake be sold, while Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said at the weekend that he remains opposed to selling the shareholding to Ryanair.

Irish Independent

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