Ryanair on Thursday said it would appeal a "ridiculous" ruling by British regulators to cut its stake in Irish rival carrier and takeover target Aer Lingus on grounds of competition.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Thursday confirmed its provisional ruling in April that Ryanair reduce its shareholding in Aer Lingus to five percent from 29.8-percent.
Ryanair hit back, saying it would appeal the decision in light of the fact that British Airways-parent IAG has since tabled an offer for Aer Lingus.
“Today’s CMA decision rejecting Ryanair’s request to review its order to divest Ryanair’s 29.8-percent minority stake in Aer Lingus is manifestly wrong and flies in the face of the current IAG offer for Aer Lingus," said spokesman Robin Kiely.
Kiely added that Ryanair had instructed its lawyers to appeal "today's ridiculous decision" to Britain's Competition Appeal Tribunal.
Simon Polito, chairman of the Ryanair/Aer Lingus inquiry group at the CMA, earlier said that "the timing of IAG’s bid has been influenced by the prospect of Ryanair being forced to sell the majority of its shareholding".
The CMA had maintained that the size of Ryanair's stake had prevented any full takeover of Aer Lingus by a third party.
But in May, the Irish government announced it would sell its 25.1-percent stake in the former flag carrier Aer Lingus to IAG, which also owns Spain's Iberia.
IAG is meanwhile set later this month to issue a formal bid for Ryanair's near 30-percent stake. It has already tabled an informal bid of 2.55 euros per share, which values Aer Lingus at 1.36 billion euros ($1.53 billion).