Low cost airline Ryanair confirmed that it will sell its stake in Aer Lingus to another EU airline, concluding a six-year battle between the two airlines.
In a statement issued today, Ryanair said that in order to dispel the CC’s unfounded and invented “concern” that Ryanair’s shareholding may prevent Aer Lingus from being acquired by another EU airline, Ryanair will undertake to unconditionally sell its 29% shareholding to any other EU airline that makes an offer for Aer Lingus and obtains acceptances from 50.1% of Aer Lingus shareholders.
Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: “It is clear from the CC’s own Provisional Findings report that it has found no evidence of any lessening of competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus. In fact, Ryanair’s recent (3rd) offer for Aer Lingus was prohibited by the EU precisely because of the evidence, submitted by both Aer Lingus and the Irish Government, that competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has “intensified” during the past 6½ years.
These inconvenient facts have reduced the CC’s Simon Polito (Chairman) and Roger Davis (Member) to inventing new and fantastical “concerns” in order to justify their apparently premeditated and biased “thinking” that Ryanair should be forced to sell down this 6½ year old minority stake. The only remaining “concern” they can now dream up is that Ryanair’s 29% stake “might” prevent another EU airline buying Aer Lingus; despite 6½ years of evidence (and repeated public statements) that no other EU airline has any interest in acquiring Aer Lingus.
In order to remove any remaining shred of credibility from this CC process and eliminate any doubt about this imaginary albeit non-existent “concern”, Ryanair has now agreed that it will unconditionally sell its 6½ year old minority stake to any other EU airline which makes an offer for, and acquires more than 50.1% of, Aer Lingus shares, at the same price and terms which are accepted by these other 50.1% of Aer Lingus shareholders. This remedy unconditionally removes any ability by Ryanair to block any future takeover of Aer Lingus by another EU airline.
This bogus CC “concern” has now been fatally undermined thereby removing any requirement for a divestment of Ryanair’s 6½ year old minority shareholding which even the CC now admits hasn’t given Ryanair any influence, and Aer Lingus admits has led to intensified competition to the benefit of the perhaps 1 or maybe 2 UK consumers who even fly Aer Lingus.”