Belfast Telegraph

Pressure put on Ryanair to sell its Aer Lingus stake

By John Mulligan

The Irish government has urged the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to force Ryanair to sell its stake in Aer Lingus.

It is the latest twist in a more than three-month saga as British Airways owner IAG tries to persuade the Republic's government that it should sell its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus and approve the takeover of the airline.

In a letter to the CMA, Ethna Brogan - a senior civil servant in the Republic- said the watchdog should not be swayed from its previously stated position that Ryanair must be forced to cut its Aer Lingus stake from nearly 30% to no more than 5%.

The CMA's predecessor, the Competition Commission, ordered Ryanair in 2013 to reduce its Aer Lingus holding.

Ryanair has claimed the fact that IAG has now made an approach to buy Aer Lingus negates a fundamental plank of the CMA decision to make it cut its stake in its smaller rival.

But the Republic's Department of Transport said it agrees with the original finding and that it should still stand. Aer Lingus has claimed Ryanair's efforts to have the CMA's decision reviewed is based on a "wilful misinterpretation and misrepresentation" of the facts. Ryanair has insisted it has strong grounds for not being forced to reduce its stake.

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