End in sight for IAG’s Aer Lingus takeover

The announcement on Tuesday (August 18) that shareholders of Aer Lingus have approved IAG’s €1.4bn offer for the airline was met with a sigh of relief from your correspondent.

While it was no secret that Aer Lingus shareholders had Tuesday as a deadline to decide whether or not to accept IAG’s €2.55 ($2.82) per share offer for the Irish flag carrier, the deal has been a protracted one, rumbling on since the airline group launched its bid in December 2014.

Among the more than 90 per cent of shareholders agreeing to the offer included Aer Lingus’ fellow Irish carrier Ryanair, whose approval was a condition of the takeover. The low-cost carrier, whose reluctance to accept the share offer had led to the deadline being moved twice, paved the way for a deal by agreeing to sell its 29.8 per cent share in the airline.

While the offer remains open until September 1 for any Aer Lingus shareholders yet to accept, yesterday’s share sale agreement now makes the deal irreversible.

With the deal now a formality, attentions have turned to how British Airways and Iberia parent company IAG will best utilise Aer Lingus.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh who said the deal means “new routes and more jobs benefitting customers, employees and the Irish economy and tourism,” confirmed he will reveal plans IAG’s plans for Aer Lingus in November.

In his statement, Walsh also said Aer Lingus will remain “an iconic Irish brand with its base and management team in Ireland but will now grow as part of a strong, profitable airline group.”
Of interest are its plans to use the airline to grow its share of the Europe to North America transatlantic market.

It’ll also be intriguing to see how Aer Lingus’ plan to achieve annualised savings of €40m by the end of 2016 will also play out given its change in ownership.

I’ll be watching with interest.

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