Business Irish

Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Leary flying high with €300m share sales

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's position as one of the country's few billionaires has been sealed after he sold €72m worth of his shares in the airline, bringing his total sales to more than €300m over the past 17 years.

The Irish Independent first revealed yesterday that the airline chief executive had offloaded four million shares at €18 each last Friday. The transaction was confirmed in a stock exchange filing published this week just as the airline celebrated its 20th anniversary as a listed company.

The last time Mr O'Leary (56) sold shares in Ryanair was back in December 2011, when he offloaded four million shares in the carrier at €3.75 apiece for a total of €15m.

Apart from the €300m-plus of share sales, Mr O'Leary has also received special dividends paid to all shareholders as Ryanair continues to generate huge amounts of cash.

At the end of June 2016, Mr O'Leary owned almost 50.1m shares in Ryanair, representing 3.9pc of the company's outstanding shares at the time. Even allowing for the sale of four million shares last week, the remaining 46.1m are currently worth about €833m.

Mr O'Leary's most expensive hobby is horseracing. He's one of the biggest players in Ireland, with his Gigginstown House Stud consistently producing strong winners in National Hunt races. Last year, his 'Rule the World' won the Aintree Grand National.

Last week, Mr O'Leary's brother Eddie, racing manager for Gigginstown, was awarded a trophy by Goffs for his contribution to the bloodstock sales company over the past year.

Apart from acting as a buyer for Gigginstown, Eddie O'Leary also owns the Lynn Lodge Stud in Co Meath with his wife Wendy.

Gigginstown is located outside Mullingar in Co Westmeath, where Michael O'Leary lives with his wife Anita and four children. He married Anita Farrell in 2003.

In 2014, Mr O'Leary signed a five-year contract with Ryanair. This contract replaced a rolling 12-month arrangement under which Mr O'Leary had worked as CEO since 1994.

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