The European Commission said Friday that Lufthansa's latest offer regarding its planned takeover of Austrian Airlines Group contains insufficient concessions, making it unlikely the EC can grant antitrust clearance for the deal by the end of this month, ATWOnline informed.
The Commission on July 1 extended the deadline of its investigation into the proposed merger by at least 14 days and up to a maximum of 90 days, but AAG had expressed confidence that approval could be given and the transaction closed by July 31. However, Jonathan Todd, a spokesperson for the EC on competition issues, told reporters in Brussels that LH had presented an offer "worse than what was offered before."
He added that it would be "impossible" for the EC to render its decision by July 31 unless LH came forward immediately with new "information," adding that a "miracle" would be needed to enable an expeditious antitrust ruling. "It's very difficult to understand why they are adopting this approach if they genuinely want a rapid decision from the Commission," he said.
An LH source told ATWOnline that the carrier would not be improving its offer, insisting that it had moved "eight meters toward the EU and the EU [now has] just to move one meter" in LH's direction.
AAG Executive Board member Peter Malanik told Austrian Broadcasting ORF that the company "is surprised about the news from Brussels" but remains confident that the deal will be completed. He conceded that finalizing the transaction by July 31 may not be possible.