Aer Lingus stake sale unlikely before 2012: Irish govt

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Ireland's government does not expect to sell its 25% stake in Aer Lingus until at least next year.

No formal decision has been made about the disposal of the airline shareholding, said a spokesman for Ireland's department for transport, tourism and sport.

However, he added that "everything is on the table" to raise finances in the context of the country's bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

A sale would not be possible immediately and could only happen in the medium-term future, "perhaps next year", he said.

This would need to be approved by EU authorities and the IMF.

He also stated that the government would only sell its stake if the price was satisfactory.

The spokesman said that Ryanair would not be able to buy the government stake in Aer Lingus because the European Commission had already decided against such a takeover on competitive grounds.