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Ryanair shareholders worried over boss’s £419,000 bonus after taking taxpayer support

UK News | Published:

The business has accessed furlough cash, and Bank of England support, and plans to cut thousands of jobs

The boss of Ryanair has seen off a major revolt against his pay, after shareholders voiced concern over his nearly half a million euro bonus even as staff were sent home on furlough.

Shareholders voted through a package which handed Michael O’Leary 3.5 million euros (£3.2 million) in the financial year that ended in March.

However, many voted against the proposals, weeks after advisers raised worries over the chief executive’s 458,000 euro (£419,000) bonus, and the remuneration plans only passed with 65.8% support.

Mr O’Leary’s bonus is calculated based on Ryanair’s profit and his personal performance.

The maximum he was entitled to was 500,000 euros (£458,000).

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), an advisory group, said earlier this month that shareholders should vote against the company’s remuneration plans.

It said that during the pandemic Ryanair has taken £600 million from a Bank of England support scheme, put many of its staff on furlough, and plans to cut around 3,000 jobs.

“Many of the larger UK listed companies in less-challenging circumstances than Ryanair have either deferred or cancelled executive bonus payouts altogether in light of the current climate, in a show of solidarity with key stakeholder groups such as employees and shareholders,” ISS said.

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It added: “Given the current state of upheaval in the industry and the uncertain outlook, as well as the wider stakeholder experience, it is difficult to justify a payment equal to c. 92% of maximum opportunity to the CEO, regardless of performance against 2020 financial year targets.”

Last month the business was forced to slash a fifth of its flights in September and October as bookings dropped because of new Covid-19 infection rates.

It is the second year in a row that Mr O’Leary’s pay has been only narrowly passed by shareholders.

Last year his pay package was even more controversial, with only 51% of shareholders voting in its favour.

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Since then Mr O’Leary’s base salary and the maximum bonus he can receive, has been halved.

At the start of the pandemic Mr O’Leary agreed to further reduce his base salary by half to 250,000 euros for the current fiscal year, because of the Covid-19 uncertainty.

ISS said that slashing executive pay had become “expected practice” for companies getting taxpayer support and it “does not address concerns around his bonus”.

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