Thursday 21 November 2019

It doesn't matter - IAG can't compete with us, says O'Leary

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

RYANAIR will recoup almost all the €407m it paid buying shares in its smaller rival should a deal go ahead.

The airline will be a key decision maker in whether or not IAG will be successful in its takeover of Aer Lingus.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has made three efforts to buy Aer Lingus. But he says whether or not IAG succeeds "doesn't matter" to Ryanair.

"Neither will make much difference," he said.

"Aer Lingus doesn't really matter to Ryanair any more. It has no future because it can't really compete with us going forward. IAG can't compete with us either."

With a 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus, Ryanair would get €405.5m if IAG's offer of €2.55 a share was accepted.

Mr O'Leary insists that one of the more relevant questions for Aer Lingus now is what is in its best long-term interests.

"Should it be owned and managed here in Ireland, or should it be owned and managed somewhere else outside of Ireland?" he said.

"My personal view, and it's only a personal view, is that I would like to see Aer Lingus as part of the larger, stronger Irish group.

"That clearly would be as part of Ryanair."

But he accepts that Ryanair is never going to own Aer Lingus.

It is unlikely to ever persuade unions and the government, not to mention competition mandarins in Brussels. Mr O'Leary said that Ryanair had an "open mind" and that the board would consider a formal offer if one is made by IAG.

Pressed about whether the Ryanair board would be willing to sell at even the previous IAG indicative offer of €2.40 per Aer Lingus share, Mr O'Leary said that he wouldn't engage in speculation.

Ryanair is awaiting the outcome of an appeal to a UK competition watchdog decision that it must sell all but 5pc of its Aer Lingus stake.

However, it could still ask for permission to sell its stake to IAG.

Irish Independent

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