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IAG Signs Non-Binding Accord With Ryanair for Heathrow

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, owner of British Airways, signed a non-binding agreement to buy landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport from Ryanair Holdings Plc’s as part of the discount airline’s takeover bid for Aer Lingus Group Plc.

“We have signed a non-binding MOU with Ryanair, which is subject to EC approval, as part of its review of Ryanair’s proposed takeover of Aer Lingus, and IAG board approval,” IAG said in an e-mailed statement today.

Ryanair proposed selling more than 85 percent of Aer Lingus’s Heathrow slots and it has reached agreement with British Airways, the Financial Times reported, citing three people familiar with matter.

Ryanair offered new concessions to European Union antitrust regulators reviewing its 694 million-euro ($914 million) bid for Aer Lingus. The EU’s antitrust authority in Brussels extended until Feb. 27 its deadline to rule on the deal, according to a filing. It didn’t give details of Ryanair’s proposals. The carrier’s previous offer to allay possible antitrust concerns failed to convince regulators, who didn’t send it to rival airlines for their comments, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Ryanair, which owns 29.8 percent of Aer Lingus, in June renewed its effort to buy the rest of the smaller competitor to bolster its Irish operations. The EU blocked a previous takeover attempt five years ago, saying it would create a monopoly for Irish flights. The bid has also drawn opposition from Aer Lingus management and Irish politicians.

A spokesman for Ryanair wasn’t immediately able to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nandini Sukumar in London at nsukumar@bloomberg.net or @NandiniSukumar on Twitter

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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