BRUSSELS, March 1 EU antitrust regulators will
decide by April 9 whether to clear or block a second bid by
Greece's Aegean Airlines to buy rival Olympic Air
, two years after a failed attempt, the European
Commission said on Friday.
Aegean has said the 72-million-euro ($94.13 million)
proposed deal will ensure its survival in Greece's shrinking air
transport market. Its chances of getting regulatory approval may
have improved as it has lost market share and it faces a new
rival, Cyprus Airways.
The Commission rejected Aegean's 170-million-euro initial
bid in 2011 to buy the debt-ridden Olympic when it was
privatised in 2009 because of the combined company's dominance
of the domestic market.
The EU watchdog on Wednesday blocked a third attempt by
Ryanair to buy Aer Lingus, again citing the
combined company's market dominance.
The only time the Commission has cleared a deal after
blocking it the first time was when packaging company Tetra
Laval and its rival Sidel won approval in 2003 after a court
In its second attempt, Aegean agreed to buy Olympic from
Marfin Investment Group (MIG) in October. It notified
the EU Commission on Thursday.
Olympic, founded in 1957 by the late shipping magnate
Aristotle Onassis, fell into steady decline after being operated
for many decades by the Greek government and burdened the state
budget with losses.
Greece's tourism industry accounts for around one in five
jobs in the country and is crucial to its economic recovery.