View recent press releases, speeches, and news items published by month.
112/10 29 October 2010
The OFT has today started a merger investigation into Ryanair Holdings plc's (Ryanair's) acquisition of a minority shareholding in Aer Lingus Group plc (Aer Lingus). Ryanair currently owns 29.82 per cent of Aer Lingus.
The OFT's investigation will have regard to two main questions:
(i) whether the OFT has jurisdiction under the Enterprise Act 2002 to review the acquisition as a relevant merger situation. This will include considering whether Ryanair has the ability to exercise material influence over the commercial policy of Aer Lingus (see Note 4) as well as whether the OFT is within the statutory time period available to it to investigate the acquisition and, if need be, refer it to the Competition Commission (see Note 5) and
(ii) if so, whether the acquisition raises competition issues that give rise to a duty to refer the acquisition to the Competition Commission under the 'substantial lessening of competition' test set out in the Enterprise Act 2002.
After initially acquiring a minority stake in Aer Lingus in 2006, Ryanair mounted a public bid for the entire shareholding in Aer Lingus in October 2006. The European Commission investigated the bid and decided to prohibit it in June 2007.
Aer Lingus subsequently appealed against the European Commission's decision not to order Ryanair to divest its existing minority stake in Aer Lingus. In July 2010, the European General Court ruled that the European Commission did not have the ability to require divestment of minority shareholdings that do not confer 'decisive influence' for the purposes of the EC Merger Regulation. Separately, Ryanair also appealed, unsuccessfully, to the General Court on the grounds that the European Commission should not have prohibited its public bid for the entire shareholding in Aer Lingus.
Given the termination of the European Commission investigation and related litigation, the OFT is now considering the acquisition.
The OFT has written to Ryanair seeking information and its views on the acquisition. In line with its normal practice, the OFT has today invited comments from third parties on the acquisition, to be submitted by 12 November.
Back to: Press releases
08457 22 44 99