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Ryanair may be forced to sell a portion of its stake in Aer Lingus following provisional findings published by the UK Competition Commission yesterday.

The commission said that Ryanair's 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus gave the €280m company the ability to influence the commercial policy and strategy of the airline.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said that it would appeal against any final decision that meant it would have to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus. Ryanair claimed the initial findings were "bizarre and manifestly wrong".


The Competition Commission also found that Ryanair's shareholding allowed it to block special resolutions by Aer Lingus and to hinder its plans to issue shares and raise capital.

The stakeholding could also prevent Aer Lingus from disposing of its valuable slots at Heathrow airport.

"Our provisional view is that Ryanair's shareholding is likely to weaken its main competitor on routes between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland," the commission states.

Welcoming the findings, Aer Lingus said it "looks forward to continuing to assist the UK Competition Commission in its investigation".

The case was referred to the Competition Commission last year after Ryanair made its third unsuccessful bid for Aer Lingus, following approaches in 2006 and 2008.