Ryanair takeover bid halves prior offer for Aer Lingus shares

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Ryanair's renewed bid for fellow Irish carrier Aer Lingus values its shares at exactly half the figure offered by the budget airline in its previous takeover attempt nearly two years ago.

The previous hostile bid, rejected by European Commission regulators, offered €2.80 ($3.54) for the shares but today's cash offer is for just €1.40. Ryanair currently owns 29.8% of Aer Lingus shares.

Despite the vastly lower share offer, Ryanair says its bid represents around a 28% premium on the average closing price of €1.09 for Aer Lingus shares in the 30 days to 28 November.

Ryanair is claiming the ofer is "generous" given the collapse in Aer Lingus' share price, which dipped to around €1 this month from above €3 last year, and the flag-carrier's forecasts of losses.

Irish trade union SIPTU, which is currently balloting members on alternatives to an Aer Lingus cost-cutting plan, has said that Ryanair's bid could have originally been timed to coincide with threatened strike action.

That action is on hold as both sides attempt to agree on money-saving measures. Ryanair's move comes at a time when Aer Lingus is conducting a root-and-branch appraisal of its cost base.