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Government rules out sale of Aer Lingus stake to Ryanair

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the Cabinet would have concerns about connectivity, competitiveness and employment.

Image: Martin Keene/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE GOVERNMENT HAS ruled out the possibility of the State selling its stake in Aer Lingus to Ryanair.

Following discussions at a Cabinet meeting earlier today, the coalition said that although it remains committed to the sale of its 25 per cent share in Aer Lingus, it would have to be “at the right time under the right conditions”.

In a statement, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the Government was “not prepared” to support any offer that would “significantly undermine connectivity or competitiveness for Ireland”.

“Based on what is now in the public domain, the Ryanair remedies package does not satisfy our concerns,” he continued.

“Obviously, the European Commission will make its own decision in its own time, but we do not see any benefit to Ireland in what has been reported.”

This is Ryanair’s third takeover bid for rival Aer Lingus. The budget airline already owns 29.82 per cent of the issued share capital of Aer Lingus but has failed in its two previous attempts to purchase a majority holding in the Irish airline.

In July it made a €694 million bid for Aer Lingus, which has urged its shareholders to reject the offer. Ryanair believes its remedies package will assuage any competition fears held by European authorities.

The company said it had no comment to make about Varadkar’s statement, but added, “Since the Government owns just 25 per cent of Aer Lingus is has no power to block Ryanair’s offer, which can still be successfully completed if we acquire a shareholding of 50 per cent or more.”

The progress of Ryanair’s offer is subject to the outcome of a current EU competition review.

READ: Ryanair profits up as it offers ‘unprecedented remedies’ for Aer Lingus bid

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