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Etihad Says It’s Not in Talks to Buy Ryanair Stake in Aer Lingus

Etihad Airways PJSC, the Abu Dhabi- based carrier, said it’s not holding discussions with Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) about buying the budget carrier’s 30 percent stake in Aer Lingus Group Plc.

“Etihad Airways is not in talks with Ryanair regarding its stake in Aer Lingus,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement today. “If approached by Ryanair we would be happy to have a discussion about the stake, and evaluate the opportunity as we would any other commercial proposition.”

The Middle Eastern carrier, which owns 3 percent of Aer Lingus (AERL), has had talks about buying the Irish state’s 25 percent stake as it invests overseas to help bolster traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub. Etihad also has stakes in Air Berlin Plc (AB1), Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. (VAH) and Air Seychelles Ltd.

“Dublin is a strong and profitable route for Etihad Airways,” the carrier said. “We’re very keen to strengthen our partnership there.”

Ryanair has offered to buy the rest of Aer Lingus to bolsters its operations in Ireland. The bid has drawn opposition from management and politicians and sparked a review by European Union regulators who blocked a similar takeover bid in 2006.

The Dublin-based carrier said in its June bid statement that if Etihad or another investor acquired the government stake in Aer Lingus it would be willing to enter into talks about selling its holdings.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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