* Ryanair to appeal European Commission decision
* Ryanair says decision political, plans legal action
* Decision likely to end seven year pursuit of Aer Lingus
DUBLIN, Feb 27 Budget airline Ryanair
will appeal Wednesday's decision by Europe's anti-monopoly
watchdog to block its third takeover bid for Aer Lingus
, potentially leaving the fate of its Irish rival in
limbo for years.
The rebuff was expected after Ryanair said earlier this
month the EU Commission had told it of its intention to block
the 694-million-euro ($917 million) bid to seize control of
Ireland's 75-year-old former flag carrier.
The veto, which is the first time the Commission has twice
rejected a proposed takeover, was expected to force Ryanair
chief Michael O'Leary to decide whether to finally set its
smaller rival free by selling its 30 percent stake.
But by following through on a threat to try to be the first
company in a decade to overturn an EU anti-monopoly decision,
Ryanair could tie up the stake for years and stymie the Irish
government's efforts to offload its own 25 percent holding.
"We believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and
overturning this politically-inspired prohibition," a Ryanair
spokesman said in a statement.
"We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated
by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns
... Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to
prepare a comprehensive appeal."
The bid, described by Ryanair as its third and final effort
to takeover its rival, included ceding 43 routes to a newly
created Irish subsidiary of British airline Flybe and
handing to British Airways the routes Aer Lingus
operates from London's Gatwick Airport.
The Commission blocked Ryanair's first attempt to take over
Aer Lingus in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second in 2009.