Belfast Telegraph

BA owner 'makes new Aer Lingus bid'

The owner of British Airways has made a fresh attempt to buy Aer Lingus, it has been reported.

According to Sky News, International Airlines Group (IAG) pitched its latest proposal at 2.50 euros a share, valuing the Dublin-based carrier at about 1.3 billion euros.

Sources told the news channel that the bid was submitted earlier this week and directors for Aer Lingus discussed it yesterday.

The Aer Lingus board rejected previous bids worth 2.30 and 2.40 euros a share.

Reports of the improved offer could lead IAG and Aer Lingus to make statements to the London Stock Exchange on Monday.

Aer Lingus is well known to IAG boss Willie Walsh as he ran the airline between 2001 and 2005 before taking the helm at British Airways.

IAG's interest in Aer Lingus stems from its desire for additional Heathrow runway slots as well as the opportunity to deliver more industry cost efficiencies.

Aer Lingus is the fourth busiest operator at London's Heathrow behind British Airways, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

Its fortunes have improved in recent months and under chief executive Christoph Mueller it reported the airline's strongest summer trading performance since the financial crisis, with operating profits up 19% to 112.9 million euros in the quarter to September 30.

The airline carried nearly a quarter more long-haul passengers in the period than a year earlier while increasing its revenue per seat.

It plans to launch a new Dublin to Washington service next May and will also increase services on existing transatlantic routes.

A spokesman for IAG said the company could not confirm reports of the improved takeover bid. No-one from Aer Lingus was immediately available for comment.

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