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Europe Said to Clear Path for Ireland’s Sale of Aer Lingus

Published on May 25 2015 3:27 PM in General Industry tagged: EU / Aer Lingus

Europe Said to Clear Path for Ireland’s Sale of Aer Lingus

The European Commission didn’t raise any initial major objections to pledges aimed at allowing the Irish government sell its stake in Aer Lingus Group to IAG, said a person familiar with the situation.

Discussions between Ireland and IAG continued after the government, which controls a 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, rejected the airline’s indicative bid in February.

British Airways parent IAG is offering a guarantee on maintaining routes between Ireland and London for seven years, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified, as talks are continuing.

“There has been contact with the European Commission as we are prudently ensuring that any mechanisms that may be considered would be robust in the event that a deal is done,” the Transport Ministry said in a statement, declining to comment on the outcome of the Commission’s deliberations.

The European Commission also declined to comment.

While a formal EU review wouldn’t take place until IAG filed a full offer, the government wants to ensure guarantees won’t give rise to antitrust issues, the person said. The sale of the Aer Lingus stake is not on the agenda for a cabinet meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, the Transport Ministry said. Items can be added before the meeting takes place.

Aer Lingus shares dropped 0.9 per cent to €2.36 euros at 3:03 pm in Dublin trading, valuing the company at €1.3 billion. IAG is bidding €2.50 euros a share plus a five cents cash dividend.

IAG has said it won’t proceed with a full bid for Aer Lingus without the agreement of the Irish government and Ryanair, which controls a 29.8 per cent stake in the rival Irish airline. Ryanair is due to release earnings figures for the fiscal year through March on Tuesday.

News by Bloomberg, edited by ESM

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