Pearson Holdings emerges as possible Aer Lingus investor


A potential investor in listed airline Aer Lingus has emerged in the wake of Ryanair’s announcement earlier this week of a €748 million bid for the company.

Pearson Holdings, which has been mainly involved in property development, is interested in investing in the former national airline.

The company has made efforts to contact Aer Lingus management, but at this stage, no formal meetings are understood to have taken place.

It is not clear how much of the airline the company is interested in buying, but it is said to have deep pockets.
Aer Lingus’ larger rival, Ryanair, formally launched a €1.40 a-share bid for the airline this week, after initially signalling its interest late last month.

The bid values Aer Lingus at €748 million, and is a 25 per cent premium on the price at which its stock traded day before Ryanair made its intentions known.

Aer Lingus chairman, Colm Barrington, rejected the bid this week on the grounds that it undervalues the airline.

Ryanair already owns 29.2 per cent of Aer Lingus following a takeover bid in October 2006 which the European Commission would not allow to proceed on competition grounds.

Its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, believes that the Commission may not halt such a bid this time, as it has allowed a number of airline mergers recently that he says it would not have approved two years ago.

Pearson Holdings is controlled by accountant Stuart Pearson, and has been involved in a number of property deals, in Ireland, the US and London.

The company made a reported €800 million from the sale of a mixed commercial and retail development in New York, and has recently completed a deal in London.

Mr Pearson is from the south east, where he has a number of businesses and properties and inherited money a number of years ago, at which point he began investing.

Pearson Holdings has also expressed interest in buying the assets of troubled developer, Taggart Holdings, which was placed under court protection in Belfast from its creditors almost two months ago.