Irish minister says Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus is too low

Marion Dakers
SHARES in Aer Lingus dipped 3.2 per cent yesterday after the firm’s board and the Irish government dismissed Ryanair’s takeover bid for the former flag carrier.

Aer Lingus stock closed at €1.05, below Ryanair’s €1.30 per share offer price, as investors and analysts looked at the next steps for the firm."

The Irish government, which has expressed an interest in selling its 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, appeared to spurn Ryanair’s bid yesterday.

“I have always taken the view that Aer Lingus is undervalued,” transport minister Leo Varadker told the state broadcaster RTE. “The offer being made proves that.”

But Aer Lingus’ third-largest shareholder, telecoms billionaire Denis O’Brien, said he was buying up more shares, telling Bloomberg that Ryanair’s bid could be “a ploy” to kick off talks with fellow investor Etihad.

Ryanair, which plans to run Aer Lingus as a separate and competing company if its bid succeeds, is already the firm’s largest shareholder with a stake of around 30 per cent.

But competition authorities, which helped block two previous bids by Ryanair, have refused to say whether they would back the bid.

“Some of the market clearly does not believe Ryanair will be allowed to buy it,” said Alan Duff, a trader with NCB stockbrokers in Dublin.

“There are a lot of unknowns that haven’t been ironed out. People are waiting for more clarification on the anti-trust side of the deal.”