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Decentralisation - Two Rules

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Why should Aer Lingus be expected to adhere to the Government's National Spatial Policy when the Government's own decentralisation plans have ignored it?

Letter published in the Sunday Business POst on 26th August 2007.

Aer Lingus Privatisation

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While each of these reservations about the proposed privatisation of Aer Lingus may not be "deal breakers", their combination suggests that privatisation is a step too far:

    1. The amount to be raised via the IPO is "small beer" in the context of the airline's total needs and surplus funds at the disposal of the Exchequer
    2. The cost of the IPO and related ongoing costs will erode the IPO proceeds and future profits.
    3. Key benefits of the investment programme might be achievable without privatisation.
    4. The market-related strengths that Aer Lingus might bring to new, capital-intensive, long-haul routes are very limited.
    5. The investment programme is excessive given the airline's financial base and any disruption to profits could undermine the business.
    6. To maintain its stake post-privatisation, the Government would need to re-invest which defeats a key reason for privatising.
    7. The initial market capitalisation may not be sustainable given its likely premium to shareholders' funds, cyclic nature of the airline business and (apparent) intention not to pay dividends.
    8. If dividends should be paid, the cumulative outflow over time would reduce profit retentions and undermine the airline's  capacity to borrow and expand.
    9. If the airline industry should go "pear-shaped" for any reason, Aer Lingus might need State assistance,  irrespective as to whether it is in public or private ownership or what the EU says, for national strategic reasons.
    10. If the State's stake is diluted, it will be powerless to ensure that Aer Lingus is not subject to assets stripping or a hostile takeover.
    11. The proposed deal with the trade unions is too expensive and would restrict future profitability and flexibility.
    12. Can the proponents of privatisation guarantee that the eircom experience (stock market ping-pong, under-investment and general belligerence) will not recur with Aer Lingus.

Letter published in the Sunday Business POst on 9th July 2006. 

Aer Lingus Privatisation Submission

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Here is a detailed 6-page Submission made to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport on 11th April 2006 in connection with the proposed privatisation of Aer Lingus which I opposed. Here is a copy of the Joint Committee's Report (Word document).

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