The European Commission has approved unconditionally the proposed acquisition of LaudaMotion by Ryanair, citing the lack of competition concerns in relevant markets.
LaudaMotion is the company that Niki Lauda used to re-acquire the assets of Austrian leisure airline NIKI that he founded in 2003. NIKI was subsequently merged into Air Berlin in 2011, until that company’s insolvency in 2017. LaudaMotion beat IAG in a bidding process to acquire NIKI from Air Berlin’s administrators.
Ryanair announced in March that it would buy a 24.9 percent stake in LaudaMotion, rising “as soon as possible” to 75 percent, subject to EU Competition approval. The airline at the time put the cost of the acquisition at under EUR€50 million for the full 75 percent stake.
The European Commission said it “investigated the impact of the proposed transaction on the market for air transport of passengers on the routes from German, Austrian and Swiss airports to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, where the activities of Ryanair and LaudaMotion overlap.”
The investigation also considered whether LaudaMotion's portfolio of airport slots to be acquired by Ryanair would prevent competitors entering or expanding their presence at those airports.
The EC found that the increase in Ryanair’s slot portfolio “is unlikely to have a negative effect on passengers,” and the low cost airline “will continue to face strong competition from other carriers on the routes to and from airports where the activities of both airlines overlap.”