Irish budget carrier Ryanair intends disengage from its Aer Lingus takeover attempt, rather than face an in-depth competition inquiry, if there is no clear support for its bid.
The low-fare operator has filed merger notification to the European Commission and the preliminary competition review should take around 25 working days. If the Commission needs additional time to consider the merger it will move to a more critical second phase.
But Aer Lingus shareholders have so far shown next to no interest in the €1.40-per-share bid, and Ryanair states that it "does not intend" to enter a lengthy second-phase Commission review unless it receives support - notably from key shareholders such as the Irish Government.
"We don't intend to waste our time, or that of the Irish Government or EU Commission over the next six months, if Aer Lingus shareholders do not want the only merger offer currently available to them to secure Aer Lingus' future," says Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary.
Ryanair's offer is currently open until 13 February and the carrier says the cut-off point for any changes to the terms of its offer will be 30 January.