Regulators set to object to €694m Aer Lingus bid

European regulators are reportedly preparing to object to Ryanair’s proposed €694m takeover of Aer Lingus.

According to Reuters, EU anti-trust regulators are set to send Ryanair a statement of objections, in the coming weeks, setting out their concerns.

The news agency claimed that regulators feel the airline has not offered “sufficient concessions” in return for deal approval.

Ryanair recently claimed that 10 airline groups had shown interest in its ‘remedy package’; adding that its proposals for increasing competition to and from Ireland were so strong that they could act as a blueprint for future airline mergers and make it very difficult for Brussels not to approve its latest bid.

The airline also said that it would likely sell its near 30% stake in Aer Lingus if this bid was rejected.

Ryanair yesterday reiterated its confidence in getting its Aer Lingus bid over the line in the coming months; saying it remains “determined to explore all commercial options to address any competition concerns the EU may have, in order to secure approval”.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary called consolidation “an essential part of making EU airlines more competitive”.

“It has already taken place in core EU countries. That process is now spreading to peripheral countries, as Aegean merging with Olympic in Greece, TAP sold in Portugal and Ryanair bids again for Aer Lingus,” he noted.

Elsewhere, on the back of forecasting a record year for exports, the Irish Exporters’ Association questioned the merits of a Ryanair takeover of Aer Lingus, suggesting the former’s lack of air cargo business could threaten the survival of the daily air-freight connection to the US.

According to IEA chief John Whelan, €18bn worth of pharmaceutical exports to the US and €4.5bn worth of high-tech imports from there are “at risk”.

Ryanair’s deputy chief executive Michael Cawley responded by saying that his airline’s vision for Aer Lingus would be to continue with the elements that are successful and enhance and develop those services, while lowering costs.

“I can only think that would be a benefit to exporters rather than a problem,” he added.

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