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Micheal O'Leary Slams Competition Authority

By Steve Wynne-Jones

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has criticised the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over the UK watchdog's ruling on the airline's shares in Aer Lingus.

The CMA ruled in 2013 that Ryanair must reduce its stake in Aer Lingus from 29.8 per cent to just five per cent, a ruling that it upheld in April despite an official appeal by Ryanair.

The Irish Independent reports that O'Leary has now attacked the Authority's stance on the matter, saying the ruling has been "blown out of the water" by IAG's €1.4 billion bid on the Irish State's 25 per cent share in Aer Lingus.

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"The sole basis for their 2013 divestment decision was that Ryanair's minority stake was or would prevent any other airline making a bid for or acquiring control of Aer Lingus," said O'Leary.

"This bid process - which the CMA contended 'could not take place' - is now in fact taking place, but Mr (Simon) Polito and the CMA have again moved the goal posts to argue that Ryanair can somehow block an IAG bid for Aer Lingus from succeeding when it is patently clear that as a 29% shareholder, Ryanair cannot prevent IAG acquiring control of Aer Lingus."

Simon Polito, chairman of the CMA’s Ryanair-Aer Lingus inquiry group, has maintained that the divestment of shares is critical to the sale going ahead and has issued a "final order" to Ryanair to reduce its stake.

"It's not good for competition when one company holds such an influence over the future of one of its major competitors," said Polito.

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