Ryanair wants inquiry blocked

Ryanair has asked the courts to block a British regulator’s probe into its 30% stake in Aer Lingus, saying it overlaps a new European review.

Britain’s Competition Commission’s investigation of the minority stake acquired six years ago violates the jurisdiction of the EU, which is considering the bid by Europe’s biggest discount airline to buy the rest of Aer Lingus for €694m, Ryanair’s lawyer David Pannick said at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London yesterday.

There is a “fundamental overlap” because “each of the two regulators are going to be looking at essentially the same factors”, Pannick told a panel of three judges.

“The European Commission has exclusive jurisdiction.”

Ryanair has been fighting with regulators since acquiring the Aer Lingus shares in 2006 as part of an earlier takeover bid that the EU ultimately blocked on competition grounds.

Ryanair has formally filed for EU approval of the proposed deal. EU regulators gave an initial deadline of Aug 29 to rule on the deal.

The Competition Commission said last month it would decide by Nov 29 on Ryanair’s stake.


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