Tuesday 12 December 2017

Michael O'Leary, the outspoken boss of no-frills airline Ryanair, may be the kingpin of European air travel, but the aviation industry has been under a dark cloud cast by the UK's decision to leave the EU. However, the airline is guiding a net profit of between 1.3bn and 1.35bn for the financial year ending in March.

At one stage, the chief executive owned almost 25pc of the airline but sold much of the stock over the last 20 years. His stake is now worth around 700m.

Before Brexit, Ryanair was on a straight run, benefiting from an overhaul of its cheap 'n' nasty image and becoming more customer-friendly. Much to the chagrin of shareholders, however, O'Leary was rewarded for this overhaul in the form of a 3.2m pay and bonus package for the 12 months to the end of March 2016, 33pc more than he netted in 2015. The Clongowes-educated former accountant has a large UK commercial property portfolio,including two office blocks in the centre of London.

At home, he, his wife Anita and their four children live in an extensive, renovated country pile at Gigginstown in Westmeath. They also own a house bought for 9.4m on Raglan Road and a Newmarket stud farm. O'Leary has spent heavily to become the biggest National Hunt horse-owner in the country. It's an expensive flutter that has paid off. Last September, he ended his very successful relationship with trainer Willie Mullins withdrawing his 60 horses from the yard. Recently he has been involved in a spat with the handicapper of the Aintree Grand National which led him to withdraw his big three horses from the fixture.

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