Air Lingus CEO expects Ryanair’s takeover plans to fail

Aer Lingus

Ryanair Holdings Plc’s (LON:RYA) EUR694m (USD941.3m) takeover offer, due to competition issues, CEO Christoph Mueller told journalists on Wednesday.

Ryanair proposed to sell some Aer Lingus routes to UK sector player Flybe Group Plc (LON:FLYB) in an effort to secure clearance from the European regulator. For its part, Aer Lingus sees the plan unrealistic, with Mueller saying he very much doubted that Flybe would be an independent competitor to Ryanair after such a move.

The CEO spoke to journalists after Aer Lingus announced an up to 40% increase in 2013 operating profit to EUR69.1m, Reuters said.

The EC is expected to give its ruling on the transaction by 6 March. The regulator had expressed concerns that a potential combination of the two airlines which are the main operators out of Dublin airport would eliminate competition on a large number of European routes where the two are each other’s closest competitor.

This offer of EUR1.30 a share made in June 2012 is Ryanair’s third attempt to buy Aer Lingus. The target’s board turned it down. Its first move on Aer Lingus was blocked by the EC in 2007, with the regulator at the time claiming that a merger would create a dominant player on 35 routes to and from Ireland.
Ryanair, which holds 29.8% of Aer Lingus, said back in June 2012 that a deal would support Aer Lingus’ future development and growth.

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