Ryanair looking to offload Aer Lingus stake

Ryanair is actively looking for a buyer for its Aer Lingus stake as speculation mounts that British Airways owner International Airlines Group is considering a third takeover offer for the Dublin-based airline.

The budget carrier’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said he expects IAG to make a third takeover approach this week for Aer Lingus.

He said that Ryanair, which owns nearly 30% of the carrier, had not been approached directly about buying the stake.

However, Jacobs, speaking in Dublin yesterday, said: “We’ve been actively looking for people to make an offer. Something has to happen, be that IAG or someone else.”

He added that Aer Lingus “will need a partner…to keep growing”, according to Bloomberg reports.

Jacobs said that IAG will “probably” need to pay between €2.50 and €2.70 a share. IAG first made a €1.15 billion offer for Aer Lingus at €2.20 a share almost a month ago and returned with an improved bid of €2.40 a share at the end of December – both were rejected.

IAG’s interest comes as all sides await the outcome of a UK Court of Appeal ruling into Ryanair’s Aer Lingus stake.

Ryanair has been told several times by competition regulators to cut its stake to no more than 5% but has appealed each time.

The ruling is expected in the next few days.

The Irish government is the second-biggest Aer Lingus shareholder with 25.1% and has previously said that it is open to the sale of its minority shareholding so long as it protects the state’s interest and maximises value.

If IAG is successful in buying Aer Lingus it would gain more scarce take-off and landing slots at its Heathrow base.

IAG said on Friday: “There can be no certainty that any further proposal or offer will be forthcoming. A further statement will be made if and when appropriate.”

Sourced by Travel Weekly

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