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Roundup-NY for E99 says Ryanair

Friday, October 05 08:21:38

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has ratcheted up the battle to take over Aer Lingus with claims he would offer discount transatlantic fares if he owned the airline. Mr O'Leary, in an interview with this newspaper, said he would offer E99 fares to the US if he succeeded in Ryanair's long-running attempt to take over the carrier. Many will see his comments as a further volley in the propaganda war to get control of Aer Lingus -- currently being ruled on by the EU Commission. "We will take bundles out of Aer Lingus's cost base. Instead of having E200 fares across the Atlantic we will have E99 fares in the winter," he claimed.

"How many flights do you think you can fill going to the States for E99? Every single one of them," he told our Business Week supplement. Ryanair, he said, would retain the Aer Lingus brand and the former state-owned airline would continue to fly to different airports. Average Aer Lingus fares would fall to E65 from E85 but would remain higher than the Ryanair average of E45, he claimed. "We have no desire to take Aer Lingus and paint yellow harps on them. We need a two-airline brand strategy," he added. The Irish Independent XXXX

Denis O'Brien has avoided having to make a mandatory bid for the entire share capital of Independent News and Media after inadvertently breaching the takeover rules that govern public companies here. INM yesterday revealed that chairman Leslie Buckley, one of three representatives of Mr O'Brien on the media company's board, was forced to sell 100,000 shares on Wednesday on the instructions of the Irish Takeover Panel. Mr Buckley was reappointed as a non-executive director of INM on August 27th at an extraordinary general meeting and then appointed chairman. He had been kicked off the INM board by shareholders in mid-2011 following recommendations by shareholder advisory groups.

His re-election meant the aggregate shareholding of Mr O'Brien and his three board nominees - Mr Buckley, Lucy Gaffney and Paul Connolly - was 30.01 per cent. This is just above the threshold allowed under takeover panel rules before a mandatory bid for the entire company is triggered. Mr O'Brien is INM's biggest shareholder, with a holding of 29.88 per cent. He and his three board representatives are considered as connected parties for the purposes of the takeover rules that apply to listed companies. The Irish Times

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Venture Capital could create 21,000 jobs directly over the coming decade, if Ireland continues to build on its advantages in the medtech, technology and financial services sectors, the Irish Venture Capital Association chairman said last night. Manus Rogan said the level of venture capital investment activity in Ireland now compares favourably with our international peers. "We have evolved from generalist to specialised funds and, in recent years, have increased emphasis on supporting life-science, ICT and cleantech companies," he told the annual dinner of the industry association in Dublin, noting also that there was increasingly a high level of syndication with international VC funds in deals involving the Irish VC industry.

A report on the economic impact of venture capital in Ireland said that research and development by VC-backed companies amounted to E148 million in 2009 - the most recent year for which figures are available. That represented 28 per cent of all business expenditure on RD in the State, the report states, and 49 per cent of RD by the small and medium-enterprise sector where VCs generally operate. The Irish Times

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Plans by the Government to hike the levies on private health insurance could cost companies up to E50m, with foreign-owned multinationals bearing the brunt. This is because most large multinational pay for the health insurance of their employees and their families -- a total of around 250,000 people. A permanent set of four levies is being brought in by the Government to ensure older people don't have to pay more for health coverage, this newspaper revealed on Monday. There is currently a temporary levy of E285 on every adult's health policy, with a E95 charge for children.

Now the Government has told the EU Commission it will bring in a permanent risk-equalisation mechanism that is likely to push up premiums considerably. Industry experts fear new levies could add as much as E200 to the cost of insuring a family of two adults and two children, with some predicting the new levies will be as much as E200 per adult. Risk equalisation ensures everyone pays the same for health insurance no matter their age and irrespective of the state of their health, with levies being used to effect it. The Irish Independent

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Ryanair has held out fresh concessions to win approval to take over Aer Lingus, offering to move some of its rival's aircraft to continental Europe to operate non-Irish routes and allay concerns about a near monopoly in the domestic market. Europe's biggest budget carrier said it would also scrap some of its own routes from Ireland to persuade anti-monopoly regulators to reverse course after rejecting an earlier merger. The European Commission is to rule by January on Ryanair's E700 million bid, seen as a long shot by analysts and investors, who point to Aer Lingus's shares trading well below the bid price.

Ryanair had an initial bid turned down by the commission in 2007 and dropped a second offer in 2009. Ryanair, which already owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus, has offered E1.30 a share for the remaining stock, which traded yesterday at E1.09. Ryanair has said it will submit a remedies package that will include commitments by rival airlines to operate some of the 36 routes on which it and Aer Lingus have no competitors. "The way we can get across the line is by cutting a certain number of Aer Lingus routes, cutting a certain amount of Ryanair routes and then maybe refocus Aer Lingus," Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara told a news conference. The Irish Times