Etihad eyes Ryanair's stake
Etihad Airways has said it would be interested in buying Ryanair's 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.
Etihad, which already owns 3 per cent of Aer Lingus, would be "very happy to have that discussion," chief executive officer James Hogan said by phone from Brisbane, Australia.
"Dublin is a strong, profitable route for us and we're very keen to strengthen our partnership there."
The carrier has also had talks about buying the Government's 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus as it invests in overseas airlines to help bolster traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub.
Aer Lingus rose as much as 1.4 per cent and was trading 0.9 per cent higher at €1.08 as of 11.50 am in Dublin - 17 per cent below Ryanair's offer of €1.30. The stock hasn't closed above €1.09 since the bid was announced. Ryanair rose 1.7 per cent and was later priced 0.8 per cent higher at €4.11.
Ryanair's bid for Aer Lingus has drawn opposition from management and sparked a review by European Union regulators who blocked a similar takeover in 2006.
Etihad has already invested in Air Berlin, Virgin Australia and Air Seychelles, as well as striking 36 codeshare agreements, to assemble a global network.
Talks on a codeshare deal with Air France-KLM are under way, Mr Hogan said.
An equity investment isn't being considered.
The Middle East company has few other carriers it's interested in buying into as it has ruled out "mega-carriers" and airlines based in North of South America, Mr Hogan said.
"There aren't many other opportunities," he said. He didn't elaborate on potential targets.
Separately, Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary's combined pay and bonus rose 18 per cent to €1.3 million in the year ended March 31, the Dublin-based company said today in its annual report.