Saturday 18 November 2017

Time to cut your losses, O'Leary

It was almost impossible to imagine that the Government would ever want to sell the State's 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus to Ryanair. So it makes yesterday's announcement far from unexpected.

It will also, no doubt, take animosity between Leo Varadkar (pictured) and Michael O'Leary to new heights. It was only a couple of weeks ago that they were trading insults at an international aviation conference in Dublin.

O'Leary then described Varadkar as the "Lyon's Tea of Irish politics" and claimed the minister was all talk. The minister, in turn, said O'Leary needed to sing a new song.

It's certain that neither of them are singing from the same hymn sheet. One wonders what Ryanair's own institutional investors make of all this.

The carrier has expended significant effort in the past five years launching three bids for Aer Lingus, and the whole thing smacks of a distraction at this stage.

They must wonder why O'Leary persists in pursuing Aer Lingus when all the omens point to a takeover that will be virtually impossible to sell to Brussels, let alone other Aer Lingus shareholders.

O'Leary has said he'll consider selling Ryanair's near 30pc stake in Aer Lingus if Brussels blocks the bid this time around. It could well be finally time to cut Ryanair's losses and focus energy elsewhere.

Irish Independent

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