Ryanair accepts IAG takeover of Aer Lingus

MICHAEL O’Leary’s Ryanair yesterday gave clearance for takeoff to International Airlines Group’s acquisition of Aer Lingus as it accepted an offer for its 29.8 per cent holding in the Irish flag carrier.

Speculation that Michael OLeary, CEO of Ryanair, might hold up deal proved incorrect. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

The budget airline said its board had voted to accept the deal, saying the offer from IAG, which owns British Airways, “maximises Ryanair shareholder value”.

O’Leary was left as kingmaker in the affair after the €1.4 billion (£1bn) offer was accepted by the Aer Lingus board and given the green light by the Irish government, owner of a quarter of the company, in May.

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But the deal was conditional on acceptance by at least 90 per cent of shareholders, and there had been speculation that Ryanair might try to force IAG to raise its bid, which the suitor had said it would not do.

O’Leary said: “We believe the IAG offer for Aer Lingus is a reasonable one in the current market and we plan to accept it, in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders.

“The price means that Ryanair will make a small profit on its investment in Aer Lingus over the past nine years.”

Ryanair will now vote in favour of the deal at a meeting of Aer Lingus shareholders next Thursday. The transaction was complicated by a long-running battle fought by Ryanair against UK competition authorities, which had ordered it to cut its stake in Aer Lingus.