State’s airline stake could net €100m

The Government could make over €100m on its Aer Lingus holding after NCB Stockbrokers targeted a 30% increase in the share price — 33c more than the Government’s €1 each minimum share sale price.

NCB stockbrokers issued an advisory note to buy Aer Lingus shares, which it predicted could rise as high as €1.33.

NCB said the pension fund issue should not be an obstacle to any buyout of the company.

“The key issue remains the pension deficit.

“The Irish Pensions Board has yet to turn back on the statutory minimum funding standard, which will require companies to submit plans to the pensions board as to how deficits will be closed. This issue should come to a head in the next number of months. We believe Aer Lingus will not have to make a significant contribution to help close the deficit,” said NCB.

The Aer Lingus stock price rose after reports that American low cost airline JetBlue was in talks to buy the Government’s 25% stake in the airline. Shares in Aer Lingus rose from 87c per share to 90c at the close of trading despite denials from the minister for transport that any talks were under way.

Leo Varadkar said JetBlue’s approach to Aer Lingus was news to him. Speaking on Clare FM about a possible link between JetBlue and Aer Lingus Mr Varadkar said: “What I read today is news to me.”

Neither Jetblue nor Aer Lingus would comment on any speculation that talks were under way.


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