Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Aer Lingus concern for share sale by Ryanair

Ryanair shouldn't be allowed to oversee the sale of its near 30% stake in Aer Lingus because it might otherwise sell it to "allies" who might later be persuaded to accept a fresh takeover offer for its smaller rival, Aer Lingus has claimed.

Under takeover rules, Ryanair, headed by Michael O'Leary, is free to launch a fourth bid for Aer Lingus from August 29.

Aer Lingus has told the UK's Competition Commission that in the event the watchdog orders Ryanair to sell its holding in the former state-owned airline, a third-party trustee should be appointed to control the sale.

The commission is deciding whether Ryanair should be forced to sell its 29.8% Aer Lingus stake after the watchdog determined that it exerts material influence over its smaller competitor.

Ryanair has said the commission has based its finding on "spurious theories". Aer Lingus has argued that a divestiture of Ryanair's stake should be undertaken by a trustee "in cooperation with Aer Lingus management and in isolation from Ryanair" to create a broader shareholder base.