Irish government source says deal hinges on rival Ryanair’s willingness to sell its stake
The Irish government-appointed group examining British Airways owner IAG's bid for Aer Lingus will recommend a sale of the state's stake, the Sunday Times reported, quoting a senior government source.
The group's report could be presented to cabinet within the next three weeks, the newspaper quoted the source as saying, but only if Ryanair, Aer Lingus's other major shareholder, first signals its intention to sell.
A spokesman for Ryanair said its board will consider any offer "if and when an offer is made". International Consolidated Airlines Group's (IAG) proposed 1.36 billion euro (£0.99 billion) bid was recommended by Aer Lingus in January.
Ryanair, which has said little publicly about the sale, asked in March for details of IAG's plans for Aer Lingus, including possible remedies to competition concerns, before it decides whether to accept the offer for its 30 percent stake.
IAG's 2.55 euros-per-share approach, its third since December, is conditional on winning the approval of Ryanair and the Irish government, which holds a 25 percent stake.
Facing pressure from some government lawmakers, opposition parties and trade unions, Dublin presented IAG with a list of new demands in February that it said must be fulfilled before it would consider what could be a politically difficult sale.
A spokeswoman for the transport minister said the minister was still awaiting the final report from the group of government officials who were appointed to assess the proposal.
"He (the minister) expects to bring the matter to conclusion in the coming weeks and has no further comment to make until such time as he makes a recommendation to cabinet," the spokeswoman said.