Ryanair coy as IAG makes bid for Aer Lingus

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IRISH budget airline Ryanair was keeping its cards close to its chest last night as the kingmaker in British Airways-owner IAG’s bid to take over Irish flag-carrier, Aer Lingus.

IAG boss Willie Walsh got the approval of the Republic of Ireland government to its €1.36 billion (£1bn) bid for Aer Lingus on Tuesday after giving assurances on jobs and routes.

The government has agreed to sell its 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, removing an obstacle that had lasted months, but the deal remains conditional upon winning support from Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair, which owns about 30 per cent of the shares.

Walsh said yesterday: “We’re hopeful that Ryanair will see this as an attractive offer for their stake in Aer Lingus.”

However, Ryanair, which built up the stake during several failed takeover attempts of its own, would only say it will consider the bid once it had received the formal offer document.

Walsh said he would not increase the bid, and that the offer document will be issued within 28 days. There are no plans for direct talks with Ryanair.

Some analysts expect that Ryanair will accept the offer, as the €405m windfall would potentially help accelerate planned share buybacks or further special dividends.