Ryanair boss could get €99m bonus despite shareholder revolt

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: Corbis via Getty Images

Almost half of Ryanair (RYA.L) shareholders voted against the low-cost airline’s renumeration report, after it emerged that CEO Michael O’Leary had been granted share options that could end up being worth €99m (£88m).

Only 50.5% of shareholders voted in favour of the report, which detailed the pay and bonuses that O’Leary will receive as part of his new five-year employment contract.

The value of O’Leary’s share option was questioned by a representative of the UK’s Railways Pension Scheme, which is a shareholder in Ryanair.

According to the Press Association, O'Leary is entitled to the share award if net income at Ryanair hits €2bn in any year up to 2024, or the share price goes higher than €21 for at least 28 days between 1 April, 2021 and 31 March, 2024.

Ryanair board member Howard Millar defended the package at Thursday’s annual general meeting, noting that O’Leary’s pay was “significantly lower” than that of other CEOs in the airline industry and his counterparts on the FTSE 100 index, which tracks the UK’s top 100 listed companies.

“Retaining Michael’s services for a period of five years was very, very important for the board and, we believe, for the company, to deliver the very ambitious plans that we have,” Millar said.

“Ryanair is, and will continue to, consult with its shareholders and we will report back to them over the coming year on how the board will adapt its decision making to reflect their advice and input on all these topics."

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