Saturday 16 December 2017

O'Leary begins long weekend €15m richer

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has got off to a good start to the long weekend - waking up €15m richer this morning.

The airline chief is one of the major beneficiaries of a €398m windfall being dished out to Ryanair's shareholders, using the proceeds of the sale of its 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus to British Airways owner IAG.

Shareholders in Ryanair overwhelmingly approved the cash distribution at a meeting at the airline's HQ near Dublin Airport yesterday morning - an event which was, unusually, off limits to the media.

It's believed that as few as two shareholders from outside the airline turned up at the meeting.

Mr O'Leary owns 3.7pc of Ryanair, or 51.38 million shares in the company.

As of yesterday, Ryanair is valued on the stock market at €17.8bn. That makes Mr O'Leary's stake worth a cool €658m.


And that's on top of tens of millions of euro he has made over the years from share sales and dividends from the airline. His personal wealth is somewhere in the region of €800m.

Ryanair paid €407m for its Aer Lingus stake and received meagre dividends from it that barely left it in the black on the investment.

Mr O'Leary has famously spent a fortune on amassing a formidable stable of racehorses to indulge his passion for National Hunt racing. The Gigginstown Stud business is managed by his brother Eddie.

Mr O'Leary has previously said that when he was growing up on the family farm outside Kanturk, Co Cork, that he wasn't that interested in horses. However, his father was, and there were always a couple of horses knocking about the farm.

He said that when he hit his 40s - and with Ryanair soaring in its success - he wanted to try something else besides playing football and golf. That is when he decided to buy a horse. His first was called Tuco, and after a couple of wins it died during a race at Fairyhouse.

And despite the Ryanair name and logo appearing regularly at National Hunt race meetings in Ireland and the UK during the season, the sponsorship comes directly out of Mr O'Leary's own pockets.

He has frequently said that despite having a number of high-profile winners at Cheltenham and other meetings, he's not in the horseracing business to make money.

"We don't do it for the money," he said.

"I'm getting a lot out of it, a lot of enjoyment out of it and some fantastic memories. It's an industry that's worthy of support."

Irish Independent

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