Ryanair, Europe’s favourite airline, today (11 June) called on Simon Polito, the Chairman of the CMA, to correct his false and misleading claims in today’s statement that “IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus is dependent on securing Ryanair’s agreement to sell its shareholding. This recent development illustrates that Ryanair can decide on whether a bid for its major competitor on UK/Irish routes succeeds or fails”.
Ryanair explained that IAG’s offer for Aer Lingus has already received public acceptances from both the Irish Government and Etihad who between them own approx. 30% of Aer Lingus. If the IAG offer gets to 50.1%, it is clear that there is nothing Ryanair can do to prevent IAG acquiring control of Aer Lingus. No 30% shareholder can block a takeover bid if more than 50% of other shareholders accept it.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:
“Both Simon Polito and the CMA are attempting to defend the indefensible. The sole basis for their 2013 divestment decision was (redacted evidence) that Ryanair’s minority stake was or would prevent any other airline making a bid for / or acquiring control of Aer Lingus. This bid process – which the CMA contended “could not take place” – is now in fact taking place, but Mr 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.
Mr Polito should now explain how the CMA can defend this divestment decision when the IAG offer has blown it out of the water. He should also withdraw his false claim that a 30% shareholder can block a takeover bid, or decide whether any takeover offer is successful or otherwise.“