Ryanair wooed for Aer Lingus

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The Independent Online

Ryanair, the low-cost airline, said yesterday that it had received a number of approaches to buy its 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary told shareholders at the annual meeting that the approaches were from other airlines and from financial institutions who wanted to break up Aer Lingus.

Ryanair's €700m (£560m) hostile takeover bid was put on hold last month when European regulators decided to launch a full-scale probe. Ryanair's stake in Aer Lingus is also being investigated by the UK's Competition Commission.

O'Leary said the airline has recently offered new remedies to the European Commission. He said somewhere between 30 and 35 rival airlines had shown an interest in taking over routes which both Ryanair and Aer Lingus currently fly.

He added that if the European Commission turns down the bid he would "seriously consider" selling its Aer Lingus stake. Middle East Airline Etihad, which owns a 3 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, has already said it might buy Ryanair's shareholding.