OFT announces merger investigation into Ryanair's minority shareholding in Aer Lingus

The OFT has announced it is conducting a merger investigation into the acquisition by Ryanair Holdings plc (Ryanair) of a 29.82 per cent minority shareholding in Aer Lingus Group plc (Aer Lingus) in 2006.

After acquiring the initial minority shareholding, Ryanair was prevented from acquiring the entire share capital of Aer Lingus by the Commission in 2007. The Commission did not, however, order Ryanair to divest the minority shareholding and Aer Lingus subsequently unsuccessfully appealed this decision.

The OFT is now considering the acquisition of the minority shareholding by Ryanair. The OFT will focus on two main questions: whether it has jurisdiction under the Enterprise Act 2002 to review the acquisition and, if it does have jurisdiction, whether there is a duty to refer the acquisition to the Competition Commission.

The OFT has contacted Ryanair seeking information and its view on the acquisition and has invited third party comments to be submitted by 12 November.

112/10 - 29 October 2010