IAG chief rules out ‘bidding war’ for Norwegian Air

IAG boss Willie Walsh.

By Pádraig Hoare

The boss of Aer Lingus owner IAG has said the company will not become embroiled in a bidding war for Norwegian Air, following two reported rejected bids.

Willie Walsh told IAG shareholders at its annual meeting that buying the low-cost, long-haul carrier was not a must-do deal.

Norwegian, which became the first airline to offer transatlantic flights from Cork in July last year, has been the subject of intense speculation that it may be sold to IAG, which also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

Norwegian axed its winter route from Cork and Shannon to Providence in Rhode Island in April due to low demand, but is still flying the routes until the end of October.

Founder and chief executive Bjorn Kjos said at Norwegian’s annual shareholders’ meeting last month that “at the right price, anything is for sale”.

IAG bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian in April, leading to speculation it was looking to buy it.

However, Mr Walsh told the group’s meeting in Madrid: “We remain open-minded about Norwegian. This is not a deal that we have to do and we will certainly not get involved in a bidding war.”

Norwegian said two previous bids were rejected because they did not value the company highly enough.

Shares in Norwegian rose almost 2% in Oslo yesterday.

Additional reporting Reuters

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