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Etihad considers buying Ryanair’s Aer Lingus stake

Posted Fri 17 Aug 2012 09:37:04 am in News, Business | By News Desk

Etihad Airways said it’s interested in buying Ryanair Holdings near 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus Group as Europe’s biggest discount airline struggles to take over its Irish competitor.


Etihad, which already owns three per cent of Aer Lingus, would be “very happy to have that discussion,” chief executive officer James Hogan said on Thursday by telephone from Brisbane, Australia. “Dublin is a strong, profitable route for us and we’re very keen to strengthen our partnership there.”

The third-largest Middle Eastern carrier has also had talks about buying the Irish state’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus as it invests overseas to help bolster traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub.

Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus has drawn opposition from management and politicians and sparked a review by European Union regulators who blocked a similar takeover bid in 2006.

Dublin-based Ryanair said in its June bid statement that if Etihad or another investor acquired the state’s stake it would be willing to enter into talks about selling its own holding. Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara declined to comment on Thursday.

Limited opportunities

Aer Lingus rose as much as 1.4 per cent and was trading 0.9 per cent higher at €1.08 as of 11.50 am in Dublin — 17 per cent below Ryanair’s offer of €1.30 euros. The stock hasn’t closed above €1.09 since the bid was announced.

Ryanair rose 1.7 per cent and was later priced 0.8 per cent higher at €4.11.

Etihad has already invested in Air Berlin, Virgin Australia Holdings and Air Seychelles, as well as striking about 36 code-share agreements. Talks on code-sharing with Air France-KLM are under way, Hogan said, though an equity investment isn’t being considered.The operator is interested in few other airlines and has ruled out “mega-carriers” and airlines based in North and South America, Hogan said.

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