Business Irish

Sunday 21 January 2018

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary lambasts Aer Lingus management

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair
Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

MICHAEL O’Leary lambasted Aer Lingus management for their handling of Ryanair’s takeover bid in Dublin this morning.

“Again Aer Lingus demonstrate their unmatched ability to destroy shareholder value” he said, adding that Aer Lingus shareholders must be “very upset” to hear that the airline has spent €40m defending Ryanair’s original bid of €3.20 a share, when its share price now stands at around half that.

Speaking at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held this morning to gain approval for Ryanair’s purchase of 175 Boeing aircraft, Ryanair boss called Aer Lingus “a pension deficit with wings.”

Shareholders at the EGM approved Ryanair’s massive aircraft order by 100pc.

He said his airline has not had a single bid for its stake in Aer Lingus since it was approached by financial institutions last year, blaming this on Aer Lingus’ “lamentable” share price performance.

Mr O’Leary also condemned the UK Competition Authority and said his airline will pursue any decision against it “until the end”.

The Competition Authority decided last month that Ryanair’s 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus gives it “the ability to influence the commercial policy and strategy”. The authority is expected to order Ryanair to reduce its stake. Mr O’Leary said this was “unlikely”, but that his airline is committed to pursuing any negative ruling through all stages of the courts. He said that whatever the Competion Authority ultimately decides will be “a further waste of shareholder funds.”

He denied he is “obsessed” with Aer Lingus and said Ryanair shareholders are “very happy”. “Shares are close to an all time high, we’ve just completed a full year results roadshow and I think generally speaking shareholders were very happy with the Ryanair strategy and equally perplexed with the bizarre ruling coming out of the UK competition commission.”

He said the airline is looking at another share buy-back scheme later this year, in addition to the special dividend it has committed to by 2015.

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