Ryanair fights to hold on to Aer Lingus stake

Airline calls on the UK competition regulator to reconsider its decision to request it to divest its stake following IAG bid

Ryanair has called on the UK competition regulator to reconsider its decision to request it to divest most of its near 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus in light of the recent bid for the airline from the International Airlines Group (IAG).  (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Ryanair has called on the UK competition regulator to reconsider its decision to request it to divest most of its near 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus in light of the recent bid for the airline from the International Airlines Group (IAG). (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

 

Ryanair has called on the UK competition regulator to reconsider its decision to request it to divest most of its near 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus in light of the recent bid for the airline from the International Airlines Group (IAG).

The submission, published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Tuesday, reveals that on February 12th Ryanair filed an application with the CMA requesting that it considers whether there has been “a material change of circumstances”.

In February the Court of Appeal upheld the request from the CMA that Ryanair should reduce its stake in Aer Lingus to 5 per cent.

According to Ryanair, IAG’s successive attempts to acquire Aer Lingus, and the Aer Lingus board’s recommendation to accept the latest proposed offer, “undermine a central plank” of the CMA’s argument, which was other airlines were deterred from combining with Aer Lingus because of Ryanair’s shareholding.

“The CMA must now reconsider the legality of the proposed divestment remedy, in accordance with its duties under the Act in light of these materially changed circumstances, and conclude that a divestment remedy is not required,” Ryanair said.

The CMA has now opened a consultation on the issue, and has invited people to comment on “whether or not there has been a material change of circumstances since the preparation of the report and/or that there is a special reason for the CMA to take remedial action other than as proposed in the report”. The deadline for comments is March 17th.

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