Norwegian shares rise on renewed IAG talk

Pádraig Hoare

Shares in low-cost, long-haul airline Norwegian rose almost 6% as speculation arose again that Aer Lingus-owner IAG is preparing a new takeover bid.

Despite IAG boss Willie Walsh saying last week that a hostile takeover was not a runner, and that he did not see another bid for the foreseeable future, a report in a Spanish newspaper suggested another bid was forthcoming.

Norwegian, which axed its winter route from Cork and Shannon to Providence in Rhode Island last month due to low demand, has previously rejected two approaches from IAG, which also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

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

IAG last month bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian.

Loss-making Norwegian is in the midst of a massive transatlantic expansion aimed at turning around the company’s fortunes by replicating the low-cost model that worked for European flights.

Norwegian’s executive vice president for strategic development, Tore Oestby, said on the renewed speculation that it was “business as usual”.

“We’re expanding rapidly and sales are good. We can’t comment on the ownership situation. Our crystal clear focus is on the purely operational, and to work on costs and efficiencies,” he said.

Norwegian vehemently rejected Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s comments that it would “go bust” by the end of 2018 because of climbing fuel prices.

Additional reporting Reuters

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