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Ryanair offers to sell Aer Lingus stake in flanking attack on the Competition Commission


Ryanair (LON:RYA) has upped the ante in its long-running quest to gain control of Aer Lingus (LON:AERA) by offering to sell its stake in the rival airline.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but it all part of the propaganda battle between the low-cost airline and the UK Competition Commission (CC).

“In order to dispel the CC's unfounded and invented ‘concern’ that Ryanair's shareholding may prevent Aer Lingus from being acquired by another EU airline, Ryanair will undertake to unconditionally sell its 29% shareholding to any other EU airline that makes an offer for Aer Lingus and obtains acceptances from 50.1% of Aer Lingus shareholders,” a statement from Ryanair said.

Ryanair has held a stake in Aer Lingus for six-and-a-half years, and has used that shareholding as a platform three times to make takeover bids for its Irish rival, all of which have been stymied by the European Union.

Observers have speculated that it is not so much Aer Lingus that Ryanair wants to get its hands on, so much as the valuable airport slots Aer Lingus controls.

According to Ryanair’s head of Communications, Robin Kiely, “This remedy unconditionally removes any ability by Ryanair to block any future takeover of Aer Lingus by another EU airline.

“This bogus CC ‘concern’ has now been fatally undermined thereby removing any requirement for a divestment of Ryanair's 6½ year old minority shareholding which even the CC now admits hasn't given Ryanair any influence, and Aer Lingus admits has led to intensified competition to the benefit of the perhaps 1 or maybe 2 UK consumers who even fly Aer Lingus," Kiely added.

Quick facts: Ryanair Holdings plc

Price: 9.648 EUR

Market: LSE
Market Cap: €10.5 billion

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