Ryanair CEO O'Leary extends his contract, bonus scheme to 2028

Ryanair Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary has agreed to extend his contract to 2028, Europe’s largest airline said on Wednesday, in a deal that will also extend a bonus scheme that could earn him close to 100 million euros ($105 million).

O’Leary, 61, has repeatedly said in recent years that he had no plans to retire and in September said he hoped to soon reach a deal on extending his contract beyond its expiry in 2024. He has led the airline since 1994.

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“The Board are ... pleased that Michael O’Leary has agreed to extend his leadership of the Ryanair Group to July 2028,” Chairman Stan McCarthy said in a statement. The decision followed “extensive engagement” with large shareholders and proxy advisors.

The extension of the contract and bonus scheme will be subject to shareholder approval, he said.

Under the 2019 options scheme, which was due to lapse in 2024, O’Leary was due to be granted the option of buying 10 million shares at 11.12 euros per share if he either increased annual profit to 2 billion euros or if the share price rises to 21 euros for 28 days.

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O’Leary’s efforts to reach those targets were knocked off course by the COVID-19 pandemic with the airline’s annual profit peaking at 1.45 billion euros in the year to March 31, 2018. Ryanair has said it hopes to earn a profit of 1-1.2 billion euros in the current financial year.

Under the new contract, the expiry date of the 2019 share option scheme has been extended by four years to July 2028 and the target for after-tax profit increased to 2.2 billion euros, the statement said.

If Ryanair hits the target share price of 21 euros per share, O’Leary could earn almost 100 million euros.

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Ryanair’s shares closed at 12.90 euros on Wednesday, well below a record high of 19.39 euros hit in August 2017.

O’Leary is currently the airline’s fifth-largest shareholder with 44.1 million shares, 3.9% of the company. He was granted a significant stake in the 1990s during his early years as chief executive.

Ryanair on Wednesday also announced the appointment of former chair of the Irish Aviation Authority Anne Nolan as a non-executive director.

($1 = 0.9518 euros)

Source: Reuters

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