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Competition Law

Analysis - debate - current awareness

28 JUL 2011

Ryanair/Aer Lingus

On 28 July, the CAT confirmed that the Office of Fair Trading ([2011] CompAR forthcoming) was in time to review Ryanair's acquisition of a minority interest in Aer Lingus and to make a reference to the Competition Commission.

In October 2006 Ryanair launched a public bid for the entire share capital of Aer Lingus. Shortly before and after the announcement of the bid, Ryanair separately acquired a stake in Aer Lingus of 25.2%. In June 2007 the European Commission decided to block the merger as it would significantly impede effective competition on a number of air routes to and from Dublin airport. Later that year the Commission rejected Aer Lingus's request to require Ryanair to divest its minority stake on the basis that it did not have the power to restore the position that existed prior to the acquisition. Ryanair appealed to the General Court against the European Commission's decision prohibiting the merger and Aer Lingus appealed against the Commission's decision not to require Ryanair to divest its minority stake. Both appeals were rejected by the General Court in July 2010. The time period for appealing the General Court's judgments expired on 17 September 2010.

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