The European Commission has announced its decision to open an in-depth Phase II review into Ryanair’s latest offer to acquire control of Aer Lingus – and Ryanair has announced its intention to re-bid if the review clears its offer.
Aer Lingus responded: “Ryanair’s first attempt to take over Aer Lingus was prohibited in 2007 on competition grounds. Aer Lingus is a much stronger airline today than it was at the time of the previous Ryanair offers and is Ryanair’s only significant competitor on the vast majority of Irish air routes. The number of routes into and out of Ireland on which Aer Lingus and Ryanair compete has sharply increased since 2007. The reasons for prohibition are therefore even stronger than before.
“In addition to the European Commission’s in-depth investigation, the UK Competition Commission also continues to investigate the harmful effects of Ryanair’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus which is contrary to the interests of consumers and the majority of our shareholders.”
Ryanair responded: “Following today’s (29th August) decision of the European Commission to refer the acquisition of Aer Lingus to Phase II, Ryanair’s Offer lapses, in accordance with the Takeover Rules, with immediate effect, and all acceptances of the Offer to date are void.
“Ryanair intends to re-bid for Aer Lingus if the European Commission clears its offer following its Phase II review. The making of any such Further Offer will require consent* of the Takeover Panel to a derogation from the prohibition on making a further offer within 12 months after the date on which the original Offer lapsed.
“In keeping with its policy to date, Ryanair will not make any comment other than the above on this process.”
*The relevant Notes to the Takeover Rules specifically provide that the Panel may grant consent in circumstances where a previous offer has lapsed as a result of a Phase II review by the European Commission, if following Phase II approval by the Commission, a new offer is made within 21 days of the issue of such a clearance.