Ryanair launches fresh bid to take over rival Aer Lingus

BUDGET airline Ryanair last night launched its long-anticipated takeover bid for fellow Irish carrier Aer Lingus in a deal that would value its target at €694 million (£560m).

Ryanair, run by colourful chief executive Michael O’Leary, built up a 29.82 per cent stake in Aer Lingus in 2006 and 2007 as part of a previous failed takeover bid.

But O’Leary believes there are now “compelling reasons” for the deal to go ahead, including consolidation among rivals.

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According to Ryanair, the Irish government has agreed an early sale of its 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus in return for its bail-out from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Last week the UK’s Office of Fair Trading ruled Ryanair’s ownership of the minority stake threatened competition. European Union regulators could also be an obstacle to the deal.

Aer Lingus declined to comment on the bid.