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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 16:57 GMT
Easyjet shares rise on bid talk
EasyJet plane
EasyJet flew more than 30 million people last year
Easyjet shares have risen 7.5% on reports that Icelandic firm FL Group may be preparing a bid for the airline.

The budget airline has hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser amid speculation of a possible bid approach from the owner of Icelandair.

Easyjet said it had changed advisers periodically since its 2000 flotation and this was not out of the ordinary.

The airline also reported an 18% rise in passenger numbers last year to more than 30 million.

Consolidation pressure

Aviation experts expect increased consolidation in the industry as carriers face tough competition and rising fuel costs.

FL Group is Easyjet's second largest shareholder after Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the company's founder.

EASYJET 2005 FIGURES
Passengers: 30.3 million (+18%)
Revenues: 1.3bn (+20% unaudited)

Mr Haji-Ioannou remains a non-executive director of the firm.

The Icelandic firm is reported to be on the hunt for acquisitions after producing record profits in the first nine months of 2005.

Profits soared to 8bn Icelandic kronur (741m) from 3.4bn kronur for the same period last year.

The bulk of the returns came from investments in other aviation and tourism companies such as Easyjet.

Passenger increase

Hannes Smarason, chairman of Iceland's national carrier Icelandair, appeared to rule out a bid for Easyjet in August.

But since then, the company has continued to buy Easyjet shares.

It now controls 16.2% of the company's shares.

Figures released on Monday showed Easyjet carried more than 30 million passengers last year, up from 25.7 million in 2004.

Revenues, on an unaudited basis, rose from 1.1bn to 1.3bn.

The Luton-based airline is continuing to expand, recently announcing the purchase of a further 20 Airbus A319 planes.

On Monday, Easyjet shares closed 28.5 pence, or 7.5%, higher at 408.25p.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Onboard one of Easyjet's flights




SEE ALSO:
Easyjet fleet adds 20 new planes
22 Dec 05 |  Business
Profit rise boosts Easyjet shares
22 Nov 05 |  Business
Icelandic firm ups Easyjet stake
26 Oct 05 |  Business
Easyjet bid rumours played down
12 Aug 05 |  Business
Fuel costs to dent Easyjet profit
24 May 05 |  Business


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