Friday 20 July 2018

The Punt: Dogfight set for air routes

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary and BA supremo Willie Walsh
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary and BA supremo Willie Walsh

International aviation journal 'Flightglobal' has been busy doing its own analysis of what the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus will mean for the Ireland-UK air market.

Its conclusion: fierce competition "looks a certainty" between Aer Lingus and Ryanair. And that should only mean good news for consumers.

Aer Lingus operates 37 routes between Ireland and the UK, connecting 13 UK cities, including London, with five airports in Ireland.

It has a 38.3pc share of the Ireland-UK market, compared to Ryanair's 48.2pc. Even when British Airways' routes are included with Aer Lingus, the pair still only have a combined 45.5pc share - still less than Ryanair. And while Ryanair is bidding to take control of five slots at Gatwick that must be relinquished by IAG as part of its Aer Lingus takeover, analyst Gerald Khoo at Liberum thinks other airlines might bid too.

"Ryanair and EasyJet are the obvious candidates to take them on, and I can see Norwegian having a go too," he told 'Flightglobal'.

"It will be interesting to see how these slots are allocated, given the restrictions on their use for the first few years."

It'll be fun and games for Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary and BA supremo Willie Walsh.

Slick crowd at oil/energy talks

Oil prices are wonderfully low, thanks the crafty decision by the Saudis to put the squeeze on higher cost rivals in Iran, Russia and the US. But it probably won't last.

Between the war in Syria and Iraq, China's still growing demand for fuel and Russia's stranglehold over much of Europe's gas supply, The Punt reckons we are as vulnerable as we have ever been to the vicissitudes of the global energy market.

The case for breaking our thirst for imported fuel is compelling before anyone even mentions climate change.

So The Punt will be interested to hear what our political and business leaders bring to the upcoming IIEA and ESB Future of Energy Summit at the Mansion House, Dublin, on September 18.

The line-up ranges from Tesla vice president Diarmuid O'Connell to European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, Communications Minister Alex White and ESB chief Pat O'Doherty.

The summit, we are told, will challenge long-standing assumptions on energy and start a conversation on how connectivity will shape the future of energy.

Zamano on the hunt for deals

Irish mobile commerce company Zamano is on the lookout for acquisitions close to home as it mulls a potential takeover bid, according to the company's chairman.

The Dublin-based firm confirmed last week that it had received an early stage, conditional offer worth €0.20 per share that values the company, which has a current market capitalisation of about €11.5m, at about €20m.

Speaking after Zamano's annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday, chairman John Rockett said that even though it is currently in takeover talks the firm is still pursuing a number of possible acquisitions.

"We are looking to expand our activities, that hasn't changed because of this approach, we don't want this to become a distraction in any way from the core business," he said.

"We have cash on our balance sheet, we have borrowing capabilities, we have virtually no net debt. We have a war chest and we have the currency of our shares but we just have to see what happens."

Chief executive Ross Conlon added: "We have about €5m on our balance sheet so there's a bit of firepower there, [we are looking] mainly in Ireland and the UK, in a similar space to where we operate in mobile billing."

Irish Independent

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