Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Brian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
The shareholding of the State is 28.3%. A shareholding of 25.1% ensures that another company cannot acquire the 75% threshold required to force delisting. It also means the company's memorandum and articles of association cannot be changed without the State's agreement. Maintaining this level of shareholding was designed, among other things, to frustrate any hostile takeover attempt. Even if another company buys a majority share, Aer Lingus will continue to operate on an independent financial basis. Without delisting and operational integration with Ryanair, it is hard to see how the synergies which motivate mergers could be realised.
The Government remains fully committed to competition in aviation markets and will not sell its shares in Aer Lingus. It is vigorously opposed to the emergence of a new monopoly in Irish aviation. An Aer Lingus-Ryanair merger is not in the best interests of competition.