Ryanair investors urged to vote down ‘excessive’ bonus payouts | Ryanair

Ryanair investors have been urged to vote against “excessive” bonus payouts and prevent the re-election of eight top executives ahead of the airline’s annual shareholders meeting this week.

Calling for a revolt from shareholders in Europe’s biggest airline, the London-based advisory group Pirc highlighted concerns over the independence of the board and potential undue financial rewards for its senior executives.

However, he did not recommend opposing the re-election of chief executive Michael O’Leary – a significant change from previous years.

Pirc, which advises institutional investors controlling more than £1.5bn of assets, including unions and pension funds, has advised voting against the re-election of Stan McCarthy and seven other non-executive Ryanair directors , questioning their independence.

He said stock options granted by the company to most directors in previous years, which can be cashed in in 2024, were “considered grounds for non-independence”.

Pirc warned that the independence of other non-executives was compromised because they had been senior airline officials before their elevation to the board, including two of O’Leary’s former deputies, Howard Millar and Michael Cawley.

Overall, Pirc said, there was “insufficient independent representation on the board” of Ryanair.

He also called for a vote against Ryanair’s controversial pay policy, which he said could lead to “excessive variable pay”, while failing to disclose “quantified performance targets”.

The most notorious element of the policy is a stock option scheme, which in 2019 awarded O’Leary a potential €99m (£88m) bonus if he could double in value market or profits over the next five years – a scenario that has been largely governed. by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pirc recommended abstentions on this year’s pay report despite the reinstatement of a bonus that brought O’Leary’s total earnings back to pre-pandemic levels of €975,000. Pilots’ union Balpa has slammed his salary as “morally bankrupt” while other staff are still on reduced pay from Covid.

In 2021, Pirc argued that O’Leary should be ousted for “several reported incidents” during the Covid pandemic, including the handling of sick pay and misleading advertisements showcasing the rollout of the vaccine in the UK which did not were “not considered to meet best practice standards and could be potentially damaging to stakeholders and the reputation of the business”.

The softening of the advisory group’s stance on O’Leary comes after a summer when Ryanair improved its reputation in the UK against its competitors, with low numbers of cancellations and few problems due to labor shortages -work.

While others cut corners, Ryanair carried a record 16.9 million passengers last month, taking its annual total to nearly 150 million.

Ryanair’s annual general meeting will be held at its engineering base near its headquarters in Swords, Dublin, on Wednesday.

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