Aer Lingus is seeking a “friendly investor” to take a majority stake in the airline, to help it fight off a £619m bid from rival Ryanair. Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington is also considering issuing shares to dilute existing Ryanair’s 29.8% shareholding.
The move comes just weeks after Ryanair launched a second bid for its Irish rival. Aer Lingus rejected the offer saying it significantly undervalues the business.
Barrington says that Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary is telling “big lies” about the airline. He says: “Aer Lingus will continue to be its fiercest competitor, into and out of Ireland”.
He adds that it is confident of reporting profits next year because of cost-cuts and the declining fuel prices.
The budget airline is considering several strategic options and says that while it has not yet identified a “perfect partner”, Air France-KLM would be a better option than Ryanair.
Ryanair proposed the new bid in December to “bring one strong Irish airline group under common ownership”.