Abu Dhabi’s Etihad ups stake in Aer Lingus to 4.1%

Gulf carrier spent nearly nearly $14m buying six million shares in the Irish carrier

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has increased its stake in Ireland’s Aer Lingus to 4.1 percent via a series of share purchases in March.

The Gulf carrier last week spent €10m ($13.9m) buying nearly six million shares in the Irish airline, increasing its shareholding from 2.98 percent to 4.11 percent and valuing its stake at around €37m.

“Etihad Airways’s stake in Aer Lingus now exceeds 4 percent following the acquisition last week of further shares on the open market,” an Etihad spokesman confirmed.

Etihad CEO James Hogan has previously expressed an interest in buying the Irish government's 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus.

Earlier this month, UK budget carrier Ryanair was forced by competition authorities in the country to reduce its shareholding in Aer Lingus from just under 30 percent to 5 percent.

Hogan told Arabian Business in March that Etihad is planning to continue buying minority stakes in overseas airlines and boosting its portfolio of codeshare partners until its revenue from such agreements reaches 25 percent of total income.

The UAE flag carrier earlier this week announced a third consecutive year of profit, with net profit rising 48 percent to $62m in 2013. Total revenues rose 27 percent to $6.1bn, including passenger and cargo income.

One of the big drivers in growth last year was Etihad’s strategy of wide-ranging codeshares and its unique approach of minority equity investments in strategically important airlines. This approach delivered revenues of $820m in 2013, a 30 percent jump on the previous year, and equates to 21 percent of passenger revenues.

Regulatory approval was received in November to acquire a 24 percent stake in India’s Jet Airways. It also invested 49 percent stake in Serbia’s national carrier Jat Airways, which was rebranded Air Serbia, and took a 33.3 percent shareholding in Darwin Airline, a regional carrier based in Switzerland and which was rebranded as the first Etihad Regional partner.

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