Belfast Telegraph

Etihad flying high as shares double in Aer Lingus

By John Mulligan

Gulf airline Etihad has more than doubled the value of its 4.9% stake in Aer Lingus, with the holding now worth €66.4m (£50.8m) compared to the €32.5m (£24.9m) it paid for it between 2012 and 2014.

The big financial return has come as British Airways owner IAG made a play to buy Aer Lingus before Christmas.

The Aer Lingus board has already rejected two approaches from IAG and a third indicative bid is expected.

Analysts believe a figure of between €2.50 (£1.91) and €2.70 (£2.06) a share will secure board approval for a takeover.

Etihad, which is headed by Australian chief executive James Hogan, acquired its first stake in Aer Lingus in spring 2012. It revealed then that it had bought a 2.98% stake, giving it 15.95m shares in the Irish airline.

In February 2014, it nudged its stake in Aer Lingus up to 3.01%, buying a small number of shares when the price was about €1.57 (£1.20).

But within days it pounced again, this time snapping up 5.87m shares in the Irish airline. At the time, Aer Lingus shares were hovering around the €1.68 mark. That brought its total holding to 21.95m shares, or 4.11% of the airline.

But Etihad moved again the same week, adding another 4.21m shares to its tally to bring its Aer Lingus stake to 4.9%.

Belfast Telegraph