Ryanair Tells U.K. It Plans Aer Lingus Sale to EU Carrier
Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) said it would be prepared to sell its 29.8 percent stake in Irish competitor Aer Lingus Group Plc (AERL) to another European Union airline that makes an offer acceptable to the majority of shareholders.
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, said today it gave the undertaking to the U.K. Competition Commission in order to dispel the antitrust regulator’s concerns that the stake might prevent Aer Lingus from being taken over.
“This remedy unconditionally removes any ability by Ryanair to block any future takeover of Aer Lingus by another European Union airline,” Ryanair said in a statement.
The U.K. watchdog is due to issue a decision on Sept. 5 as to whether the stake allows Dublin-based Ryanair to “influence the commercial policy and strategy” of Aer Lingus. The discount carrier may be able to delay its enforcement for years while challenging an EU decision to block a full takeover offer that valued Aer Lingus at 694 million euros ($915 million).
Aer Lingus stock traded little changed at 1.66 euros as of 10:18 a.m. local time, valuing the company at 880 million euros following a 50 percent gain so far this year.
Ryanair was priced 2.5 percent lower at 7.07 euros, giving it a market capitalization of 10 billion euros.
The U.K. Competition Commission said it remains in remedies discussions with Ryanair and is aware of the carrier’s comments, which will be evaluated in reaching a final decision.
“We will take all of the responses that we’ve had into consideration,” spokesman Rory Taylor said.