Aer Lingus has given the nod to the takeover offer from IAG - its third proposal in six weeks. The Irish airline now needs to calm government concerns to win shareholder approval.
Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus announced on Tuesday that it backs a 1.36-billion-euro ($1.52 billion) takeover bid by International Airlines Group (IAG), parent of British Airways and Spain's Iberia.
The news comes one day after IAG had submitted a third takeover offer worth 2.55 euros per share, with 2.50 euros in cash and a dividend of 0.05 euros per share.
The Dublin-based airline said its 11-member board was "willing to recommend" IAG's improved proposal, subject to being satisfied with how the group proposes to address the interests of relevant parties including its top shareholders - rival budget airline Ryanair and the Irish government, which is facing growing political pressure not to sell its share.
"IAG recognizes the importance of direct air services and air route connectivity for investment and tourism in Ireland and intends to engage with the Irish Government in order to secure its support for the transaction," IAG said in a statement.
The group also stressed it intends to operate Aer Lingus as a separate brand, with its own management and operations.
After three failed hostile takeover bids, Ryanair holds a 29.8 percent share of the airline, while the Irish government retained a 25.1 percent share when it privatized Aer Lingus in 2006.
A successful takeover would give IAG more access to take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport, the major European hub for international flights.
el/ng (AP, Reuters, AFP)