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O'Leary's folly must stop

JUST what part of "no" does Ryanair's Michael O'Leary not understand? Last week's decision by the European Commission to launch an investigation into Ryanair's proposed takeover of Aer Lingus means that the budget airline's already slim chances of taking over its main Irish rival have all but disappeared.

The move means that Ryanair's latest bid for Aer Lingus automatically lapses. The Commission has until January 14 to deliver its ruling and Ryanair has stated that it will re-bid for Aer Lingus if the Commission hands down a favourable decision.

But will it? On past form, the odds must be stacked against Ryanair. In 2007, the Commission blocked a previous Ryanair bid for Aer Lingus. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Competition Commission is investigating the 29.8 per cent Aer Lingus shareholding already owned by Ryanair.

With Ryanair's pursuit of Aer Lingus set to enter its seventh year and a stake that cost €470m now worth just €170m, Mr O'Leary is running out of options.

IAG, the parent company of BA, has stated that it isn't interested in acquiring Aer Lingus, while Etihad of Abu Dhabi, which has a 3 per cent stake, is barred from owning a majority shareholding in an EU airline.

Maybe it's time chairman David Bonderman grabbed the Ryanair controls and brought this pointless saga to an end.

Sunday Indo Business