Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Aer Lingus cool on Ryanair offer

Ryanair and Aer Lingus aircraft
A previous Ryanair move was rejected on EU competition grounds

Shareholders in Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus have shown little desire for a takeover by budget rival Ryanair,

Last month Aer Lingus bosses rejected a hostile 748m euro (683m; $1bn) takeover bid from the low-cost airline.

But Ryanair, which already owns 29.82% of Aer Lingus, asked other Aer Lingus shareholders to accept the deal.

Ryanair says it now has had acceptances totalling just 29.83% of Aer Lingus shares, including its own stake. Its offer has been extended for five weeks.

"The offer has been extended and will remain open for acceptance until 1pm Dublin time on 13 February, 2009," Ryanair said in a statement.

Aer Lingus management had urged shareholders not to back the takeover when it was launched ahead of Christmas, saying that it contained "nothing new".

And the airline's workers, which control a 14% stake, have worries over job prospects, despite assurances from Ryanair.

Ryanair has offered 1.40 euros a share for the former state airline, just half the price of a previous offer in 2006 which was blocked by the EU on competition grounds.

This time Ryanair says it plans to operate both airlines as separate companies with distinctive brands.

The 2006 offer was strongly opposed by major Aer Lingus shareholders, including the Irish government, company employees, pilots and their pension fund.

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