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Ryanair Launches Aer Lingus Bid

by Jason Gorringe,, London

06 October 2006

Budget airline, Ryanair Holdings announced on Thursday that it has acquired over 16% of the issued share capital of Aer Lingus, and announced its intention to make an all cash offer of EUR2.80 per share for the issued share capital of Aer Lingus not already in the ownership of Ryanair.

It stated that this offer is conditional on, among other things, obtaining at least a majority of the shares in Aer Lingus. This cash offer values Aer Lingus at approximately EUR1.481bn and represents a premium of 27% (approximately) over last week’s IPO share price of EUR2.20 per share, and a premium of 12% (approximately) over Wednesday evening’s closing price for Aer Lingus shares.

Speaking at the launch of the offer yesterday, Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary stated that:

“This offer represents a unique opportunity to form one strong airline group for Ireland and for European consumers. We will expand, enhance and upgrade the Aer Lingus operations. This offer – if successful – means both companies will continue to operate separately and compete vigorously in the small number of routes on which we both operate – currently around 17 of the approximately 500 routes operated by the two airlines. We believe the price of EUR2.80 to be an excellent offer."

"If accepted the Irish Government will realise over EUR500m from the sale of their Aer Lingus shares, and the employees will realise over EUR220m which equates to an average of over EUR60,000 per employee.”

The combined strength of Ryanair and Aer Lingus would establish an Irish airline group with over 50m passengers annually.

Experts are predicting that although the proposed deal will almost certainly be scrutinised by the European Commission, it is likely to receive approval.

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