Same day sale of two stakes ‘ideal’

In a perfect world Ryanair and the Government would both sell their stake in Aer Lingus at the same time so that a majority purchaser could be found, according to Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller.

His comments came as the British Competition Commission published its draft plans for forcing Ryanair to sell their 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus down to a mere 5%.

The IMF and the troika have called on the Government to sell its 25% stake in the airline.

Mr Mueller said it would be a reasonable consideration to combine the two.

Ryanair has vigorously resisted any effort by the Competition Commission to force it to sell its stake and has appealed the ruling to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Mr Muller said that the pensions issue remains a major stumbling block for any sale and that there are still huge numbers of ongoing talks.

Mr Muller is hoping that the pensions issue and the Ryanair sell-down order can both be resolved at the same time so that a majority owner of the airline can be found.

“That would be in a perfect world,” he said. “The relationship between Ryanair and the Government is very poor, but never say never.”

The Competition Commission is recommending the appointment of a trustee to oversee the sale of Ryanair’s Aer Lingus stake.

Deputy chairman and chairman of the Competition Commission, Simon Polito, said that they were going ahead with the drafting of an order so it can be swiftly implemented if Ryanair’s appeal fails.

“We see considerable merit in consulting on the draft final order at this stage to work through the detailed implementation of these measures and to avoid unnecessary delays in the event that the tribunal upholds the Competition Commission’s final report,” he said.

Mr Mueller said that there would be a long lead in time before Ryanair will be forced to sell the stake.


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