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Ryanair to go to court over Aer Lingus shares

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Competition authority tells Ryanair to sell most of its stake
Ryanair will appeal against a decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority concerning the sale of its Aer Lingus shares, calling the ruling “ridiculous”.
The authority published a final order requiring the airline to sell its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus down to 5%, following concerns that it has too much control of its rival.
In a statement, the CMA said: “There is no material change in circumstances or special reason for it not to require Ryanair to reduce its shareholding in Aer Lingus to 5%.”
The final order comes in the wake of the Irish government last month approving the sale of the state’s 25.1% stake in the airline to British Airways owner International Airlines Group.
The head of the Ryanair/Aer Lingus inquiry group, Simon Polito, said: “IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus is dependent on securing Ryanair’s agreement to sell its shareholding. This recent development illustrates that Ryanair can decide whether a bid for its major competitor on UK/Irish routes succeeds or fails. This concern was an important part of our decision to require Ryanair to reduce its shareholding. It’s not good for competition when one company holds such an influence over the future of one of its major competitors.”
Ryanair is now preparing to go to court over the matter, said spokesman Robin Kiely, who added: “Today’s CMA decision rejecting Ryanair’s request to review its order to divest Ryanair’s 29.8% minority stake in Aer Lingus is manifestly wrong and flies in the face of the current IAG offer for Aer Lingus.
“When the only basis for the CMA’s original divestment ruling was that Ryanair’s minority shareholding was or would prevent other airlines making an offer for Aer Lingus, the recent offers by IAG for Aer Lingus totally disprove and undermine the bogus theories and invented evidence on which the CMA based its untenable divestment ruling.
“Simon Polito and his group were unable to establish any consumer harm arising from Ryanair’s minority stake in Aer Lingus and instead resorted to speculating (in the CMA’s August 2013 report) that Ryanair’s 29.8% shareholding would deter other airlines from merging with or bidding for Aer Lingus.”
TTG Digital

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