Ryanair takes stake in Lauda's new Austrian airline

BERLIN — Budget airline Ryanair says it is taking an initial 24.9 percent stake in an Austrian-based airline being set up by former Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda.

It plans to raise its holding to 75 percent.

LaudaMotion is the successor to Niki, long a subsidiary of bankrupt Air Berlin, which Lauda bought back after it fell victim to its parent's financial woes. It plans to operate scheduled and charter flights from Germany, Austria and Switzerland to largely Mediterranean destinations.

Ryanair said Tuesday that it plans to increase its stake to 75 percent "as soon as possible," subject to European Union approval.

It said that the total stake will cost it less than 50 million euros ($61.5 million), but it will invest another 50 million euros in startup and initial operating costs.

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