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Defiant O'Leary wishes new owner well

Ryanair votes to accept IAG offer for Aer Lingus

RyanairRyanair has cleared the way for British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group to acquire Irish carrier Aer Lingus after voting to accept the offer for its 29.8% stake.

The board voted unanimously in favour of the €1.4 billion (£1bn) deal as it believes that the current IAG offer maximises Ryanair shareholder value. The Irish budget airline will make a small profit.

It will also support the motion at the Aer Lingus EGM on the 16 July to give the Irish Government a golden share over Aer Lingus’s Heathrow slots.

Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We believe the IAG offer for Aer Lingus is a reasonable one in the current market and we plan to accept it, in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders. The price means that Ryanair will make a small profit on its investment in Aer Lingus over the past nine years.”

He said the sale of the holding chimes with its original plan to use Aer Lingus as a mid-priced brand competing at primary airports. He said this has been overtaken by the “successful rollout” of Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” strategy, which launched in 2013.

Ryanair has entered many of Europe’s primary airports and says it has been rewarded with strong growth in its network, traffic, load factor and profitability.

In a message of goodwill tinged with defiance, Mr O’Leary said: “We wish IAG well with their takeover of Aer Lingus.”

He pointed out that when Ryanair first bid for Aer Lingus in late 2006, Ryanair carried 36m passengers, four times Aer Lingus traffic (9m). Today Ryanair has 100m passengers, more than 10 times Aer Lingus traffic (10m).

“We will continue to deliver the vast majority of Ireland’s traffic and tourism growth in the coming months and years,” said Mr O’Leary.

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