Appeal over shareholding likely to drag well into 2014
Aer Lingus may have to wait another year before the “poison pill” of a Ryanair shareholding is reduced, freeing it to seek a partner, its chief executive says.
Christoph Mueller said he expects an appeal by Ryanair to be heard in mid-February after the carrier was told by the UK’s Competition Commission to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus from 29.8% to 5%.
Ryanair has made three hostile bids for Aer Lingus since 2006 but has now been told to cease its quest, meaning that other interested parties are likely to come forward as potential partners.
But Mueller cautioned: “It could be that it [Ryanair] is on our share register for another year or so,” adding that the commission might even have to execute that sale itself. “That has never happened before.”
Mueller believes Aer Lingus will be in a favourable position to expand once the Ryanair shareholding is slimmed down, having returned to profitability and cut its cost base considerably. “We are a very valuable carrier. We have always said Ryanair was a little bit of a poison pill for anybody else to show interest.”