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Ireland won’t sell airline stake

DUBLIN — The Irish government announced Tuesday it won’t sell its 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus to Ryanair because a merged airline would be likely to undermine competition and jobs.

The decision by Ireland’s full Cabinet makes it harder for Dublin-based Ryanair to acquire its main Irish competitor. But in a typically defiant response, Ryanair said it still expected to take over Aer Lingus and didn’t need the government’s support.

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Ryanair is Aer Lingus’s biggest shareholder with a 30 percent stake. In June, Ryanair launched its third hostile takeover bid since 2006, offering $1.72 per share, a 38 percent premium over Aer Lingus’s market value and representing a potential $225 million windfall for Ireland’s cash-strapped government.

Irish Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the Ryanair offer ‘‘does not satisfy our concerns about connectivity, competitiveness, or employment for Ireland.’’

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