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Ryanair takes offer for Aer Lingus to court

Category : Business

Airline takes action after rejection by European officials of its third takeover bid

Ryanair is taking to court its battle to acquire rival Aer Lingus following the rejection of its third takeover bid by European officials. The airline accused the European commission of acting unfairly and failing to apply its own competition rules and precedents to the latest takeover plan.

“We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns and we believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically inspired prohibition,” said a Ryanair spokesman. “Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to prepare a comprehensive appeal against this manifestly unjust prohibition.”

The airline said the bid rejected on Wednesday by the EU, was supported by an unprecedented remedies package. The “radical” bid included two buyers – British Airways and Flybe – agreeing to take over about half of Aer Lingus’s short-haul business.

The takeover plan had been boosted this month when Flybe agreed to fly 43 of Aer Lingus’s short-haul routes, easing competition concerns. There had also been a commitment from International Airlines Group – owner of BA and Iberia – to run overlapping Aer Lingus/Ryanair routes between Dublin and London Gatwick to ensure competition.

Ryanair said the decision to block its latest bid was a political one to protect the interests of the Irish government, which holds a 25% stake in Aer Lingus. The airline submitted its final package of takeover plans and commitments this month following a series of meetings with EU chiefs. It said the package addressed the shortcomings in its two failed bids in 2007 and 2012.

Ryanair: EU to reject Aer Lingus bid

Category : World News

Ryanair says that the European Commission intends to block its proposed offer for rival Aer Lingus and says it will appeal against any such decision.

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Dublin opposes Aer Lingus deal

Category : Business, World News

The Irish government voices its opposition to Ryanair’s bid to buy rival Aer Lingus, saying the deal risked damaging competition.

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Probe into Ryanair Aer Lingus bid

Category : World News

Budget airline Ryanair’s latest attempt to take over its Irish rival Aer Lingus is to be investigated by the European Commission.

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Aer Lingus rises on Ryanair offer

Category : World News

Aer Lingus shares rise 18% on Wednesday following rival Ryanair’s latest attempt to buy the Irish airline.

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Ryanair plans €640m Aer Lingus takeover

Category : Business

Budget airline, which already owns 29.82% of the Irish flag carrier, proposes €1.30 a share cash offer to buy rest of rival

No frills airline Ryanair is planning a €694m (£560m) takeover of Aer Lingus, its third attempt to buy its rival in the last six years.

Ryanair, which already owns 29.82% of the Irish flag carrier, said last night it would make a €1.30 a share cash offer for the rest of the 76-year-old airline.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said the proposed takeover would create “one strong Irish airline group” that would be able to compete with British Airways-owner IAG, Air France and Lufthansa.

O’Leary said Aer Lingus had “failed to deliver value for shareholders” in the six years since Ryanair made its first unsuccessful takeover bid. He said Ryanair’s offer was the “best way for Aer Lingus to continue to be owned, controlled and managed from Ireland for the benefit of Irish citizens and visitors”.

Ryanair’s offer represents a 38.3% premium over Aer Lingus’ closing price of €0.94 on Tuesday.

The bid is likely to face a stiff challenge from the European commission, which blocked an earlier bid in 2007. UK competition regulators are also likely to call for an investigation as the combined companies would control 80% of the 370,000 journeys between the UK and Ireland every month.

Last week the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ruled that Ryanair’s minority stake in Aer Lingus may already threaten competition and lead to high prices. The OFT referred Ryanair’s holding to the Competition Commission for investigation.

But Ryanair said the European airline market had changed considerably – with a number of takeovers and consolidations – since its former bid was blocked on competition grounds.

The Irish government has committed to selling its 25% stake in Aer Lingus as part of its EU/IMF bailout programme, but has made clear it would not sell to Ryanair due to competition concerns.

O’Leary pledged that he would keep the two airlines separate and competitive to one another. He said he would boost Aer Lingus’s passenger numbers from 4.5m to 14m over the next five years.

“Ryanair believes that any competition concerns which the European commission may have can be addressed by Ryanair making appropriate remedies prior to the completion of this offer and by significant synergies and cost efficiencies resulting from this combination,” the company said in a statement.

However, analysts were highly sceptical that the deal would be granted regulatory approval. Brian Devine, an analyst at NCB Stockbrokers, said: “It is very hard to see how it would be accepted by European competition authorities.”

O’Leary said the proposed takeover would also offer the Irish government a way of making a return on its 25% stake. “It allows the Irish government to deliver the first of its assets sale obligations to the troika [of international bailout lenders], and it enables Aer Lingus to secure a financially strong, Irish based, airline partner committed to keeping Aer Lingus as a separate airline while developing the Aer Lingus brand and business,” he said.

The bid comes despite O’Leary repeatedly downplaying any intention of bidding for Aer Lingus again.

Aer Lingus declined to comment.

Ryanair tries to buy Aer Lingus

Category : Business, World News

Budget airline Ryanair launches another attempt to buy its biggest Irish rival, Aer Lingus, the day after an investigation was launched into its existing stake.

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Barclays Launches Competitive New Cash ISA Paying 3.05%

Category : World News

Barclays today launches its new ISA range which includes a competitive Loyalty Reward ISA paying 3.05 per cent AER/ 3.01 per cent tax free per annum (variable), enabling customers to make the most of their tax-free savings allowance.

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