Ryanair says open to offer for Aer Lingus stake

3rd March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Ryanair said Tuesday it will consider any offer for its stake in Aer Lingus, which is currently being pursued for a takeover by British Airways owner IAG.

London-listed International Airlines Group is drumming up support for its 1.35-billion-euro ($1.51-billion) bid for Aer Lingus but needs the support of Ryanair, which holds almost 30 percent of the former Irish national carrier.

IAG is also looking to convince the Irish government to sell its 25.1 percent stake, with Dublin stating it needs further commitments on connectivity and employment.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said Tuesday that the group had not been approached directly by IAG about selling its stake -- but indicated it was open to an offer.

"We've always said the stake is for sale. What would comprise an offer that's acceptable to the board of Ryanair, I can't comment on," O'Leary told reporters at a press conference in London.

"Our position is: our stake is available for sale, if someone comes up with the right offer that the board considers to be acceptable."

Back in January, the Aer Lingus board said it was "willing to recommend" a takeover approach worth 2.55 euros per share -- subject to certain conditions.

O'Leary added Tuesday that Ryanair would also be seeking assurances over IAG's future plans for Aer Lingus -- particularly on the issue of competition.

Ryanair had previously made three separate bids for Irish rival Aer Lingus, all of which failed on competition grounds.

"One of the big areas of discussion between ourselves and IAG will be what kind of competition remedies will IAG have to offer up to the European Commission in order to allow a takeover to take place," said O'Leary.

The outspoken CEO was in London to launch the next phase of Ryanair's customer service improvement programme.

"If they (IAG) can persuade the Irish government to accept their offer then I think the next logical step is they'll come and talk to us," he added.

"If they can't persuade the Irish government or can't get the Irish government to make a decision - which is a likely outcome - I think they will still then have the option of coming to talk to us."

© 2015 AFP

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