The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recently informed Ryanair that it believes that it is ‘in-time’ to investigate this company’s acquisition of a minority interest in Aer Lingus, acquired over the period September 2006 to August 2007. The OFT will investigate whether the acquisition is likely to give rise to a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ and if this is found to be likely then it has a duty to make a reference to the UK Competition Commission. Ordinarily, the OFT has up to four months from the date of a merger’s completion to involve the Competition Commission. However, an exception may be made where the relevant transaction was notified under the EU Merger Regulation. The OFT stated that it was unable to act until the appeals of European Commission decisions relating to Ryanair’s full bid for Aer Lingus and its retained minority shareholding had been concluded. That said, the OFT’s decision to investigate has caused some surprise. For further information, please click here.
Contributed by Cormac Little.