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ISEQ dips but A Lingus, Ryanair soar
Wednesday, 20th June 2012 12.41pm

The ISEQ slipped lower this morning despite a 13pc rise in Aer Lingus shares and a near 1pc gain for Ryanair after the latter's surprise bid for the former flag carrier.

By 12:30, the index was down 11.70 points to 3,076.59.

Shares in Aer Lingus soared 13c to E1.07 and Ryanair's stocks gained 4c to E4.02. Ryanair last night launched an all cash bid for Aer Lingus of E1.30 per share, a 38pc premium to Tuesday's close.

"This is an unexpected move an comes at the same time as the UK Competition Commission starts its investigation into Ryanair's existing 29pc holding in Aer Lingus. Given their relative sizes Ryanair does not require shareholder approval for this deal. Technically, it does not need the State's 25pc holding either to secure majority control. While Ryanair insists that circumstances have changed since its previous bid, the key issue will be whether or not the EC will permit such a deal it previously blocked. While many of Ryanair's arguments are logical we would be surprised if the EC reversed its previous decision," according to Gerard Moore of Merrion Stockbrokers. "Ryanair states that is looking to acquire Aer Lingus and then to operate two competing airlines within one group. It would look to use Aer Lingus to compete more aggressively with existing European airlines at large primary airports, which it tends to avoid. It would target to reduce unit costs and increase Aer Lingus traffic figures from 9.5m passengers to 14m over a five year period. It would also look to expand Aer Lingus' transatlantic operations."

CRH's shares were down 6c to E14.20. The broader slowdown in the US economy has filtered through to the non-residential construction sector with the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) down sharply in May. Housing meanwhile continues to recover with May new permits rising to their highest level since September 2008. The ABI fell sharply in May to 45.8 from 48.4 in April. The index is a lead indicator of future non-residential construction activity, with a score below 50 indicating a decrease in billings. The new projects inquiry index was 54.0, down from 54.4 the previous month. AIA comments that "given the ongoing uncertainly in the economic outlook, particularly the weak job growth numbers in recent months, this should be an alarm bell going off for the design and construction industry". Separately, the US Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose 29pc year-on-year (yoy) to a SAAR of 708,000 in May, short of the consensus estimate of 722,000.

Paddy Power has announced the appointment of William Reeve to the newly-formed position of Head of Operations. In this role, Reeve will oversee Technology, Risk and Trading, HR and Corporate Strategy. Reeve is currently a non-executive director of Paddy Power and will resign this position upon commencement of his role in September. In addition, the group has also announced the appointment of Fin Goulding as Chief Investment Officer, with responsibility for heading up technology functions in the UK, Ireland and Italy. Shares in the Irish bookie fell 48c to E51.72.

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