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Ryanair: OFT 'wasting time' on probe

The airline has responded to the news that the UK’s Office of Fair Trading has resumed its probe into Ryanair’s minority stake in Aer Lingus.

Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

RYANAIR HAS DESCRIBED a probe into its minority stake in Aer Lingus as a waste of time and resources.

The UK’S Office of Fair Trading has resumed its investigation into Ryanair’s minority stake in its rival Aer Lingus, which began almost a year ago.

At the time, Ryanair appealed to Britain’s Competition Appeals Tribunal with regard to the OFT being out of time in launching the investigation.

In July, the OFT said it welcomed a judgement from the Competition Appeal Tribunal that it could review the acquisition while appeals were ongoing in the European courts.

This judgement meant the investigation could resume.

Yesterday, Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said:

We are surprised that the OFT continues to waste time and resources on a failed merger offer between two non UK companies, some five years after the offer was withdrawn, and some four years after the EU Commission prohibited the original offer but confirmed that Ryanair had neither de jure nor de facto control over Aer Lingus.
This OFT investigation sets a damaging precedent for future UK mergers, as it appears that the OFT now intends to second guess and become involved in mergers up to 9 years after the transaction, only once all EU appeals have been completed.  We believe that this investigation is out of time and we trust that the Court of Appeal will share our view and put an end to this unnecessary investigation.

The OFT said its aim was to review whether Ryanair’s stake in Aer Lingus damages competition.

The share of 29.82 per cent of Aer Lingus Group plc was completed in late 2006.

Read: UK authority probes Ryanair’s Aer Lingus stake>

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