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Aer Lingus Profit Falls as Dividend Raised in Ryanair Bid Battle

Aer Lingus Group Plc’s annual profit fell 52 percent, even as the Irish carrier boosted its dividend amid a hostile takeover approach from discount rival and minority investor Ryanair Holdings Plc.

Pretax profit slumped to 40.6 million euros ($55 million) from 84.4 million euros a year earlier, the Dublin-based carrier said in a statement today.

Aer Lingus, locked in a protracted battle to remain independent after Ryanair’s renewed takeover interest, will lift its full-year dividend 25 percent to 4 cents a share. The company said it cannot provide an earnings outlook for 2013 while takeover proceedings are outstanding.

Annual revenue rose 8.2 percent to 1.4 billion euros and the passenger total increased 1.5 percent to 9.65 million, Aer Lingus said.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, already owns around 30 percent of Aer Lingus and is seeking approval from European authorities to take majority control.

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