Ryanair Looks at Possible Tech, Retail-Industry Purchases

Ryanair Holdings Plc may add technology startups and retail businesses as potential acquisition targets as Europe’s biggest discount airline seeks to develop its online presence and boost ancillary sales.

Any such purchases would be “small things: content businesses, retail opportunities,” Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said in an interview in London today. “There are lots of things that could be interesting” over the next 10 years, with any deals targeted at “improving the product, the distribution and the service” rather than amounting to a distraction from the main business of flying.

Ryanair is seeking to tame its no-frills image and lure new customer groups such as business passengers and older travelers with new television commercials, a website overhaul and applications for mobile devices. The Dublin-based company submitted a non-binding offer for Cyprus Airways in August, which would extend Ryanair’s footprint eastward, and it’s reviewing the documentation of Spanish airport operator Aena.

Ryanair has made few acquisitions in its 29-year history. Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary’s only deal beyond the

20.1 million-euro ($26 million) purchase of Buzz from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines NV has been a minority investment in Irish rival Aer Lingus Group Plc, with the executive instead preferring to enter markets after the demise of local airlines rather than bail them out.

European antitrust authorities have blocked a full takeover and the U.K. Competition Commission has ruled that the stake must be reduced.

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