Ryanair’s Offer Said to Fail to Sway EU in Aer Lingus Review
Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA)’s offer of concessions won’t prevent European Union regulators sending formal objections over its bid for Aer Lingus Group Plc, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Ryanair’s offer of remedies was deemed insufficient to warrant being sent to rival airlines for their comments, said the people who asked not to be identified because the merger review process isn’t public. The EU may send the Dublin-based company a so-called statement of objections citing possible problems with the deal within weeks, one of the people said.
Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in September that Europe’s biggest discount airline had offered a “revolutionary” package to help win antitrust approval for the bid. He said last week that he’d found “multiple up-front buyers” willing to purchase slots and stoke competition on routes where only the two Irish operators are currently active.
The EU is probing Ryanair’s renewed 694 million-euro ($883 million) bid for its Irish rival, five years after it blocked an earlier takeover attempt, citing the likelihood of the deal reducing competition. A takeover could eliminate competition on many of the routes linking Dublin with European cities, the EU’s antitrust agency said in August.
Declan Kearney, a spokesman for Aer Lingus declined to comment, as did Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the Brussels- based European Commission. Representatives for Ryanair declined to comment.
Ryanair has a 29.8 percent stake in Aer Lingus (AERL) and is appealing to the U.K. courts over a U.K. Competition Commission probe into its holding after the national regulator said it may lead to higher prices.
Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus has drawn opposition from Irish politicians and Aer Lingus management. O’Leary has said he’d consider selling Ryanair’s existing minority stake should regulators turn down the concessions.
The Financial Times reported that the EU had rejected Ryanair’s concessions earlier today.