Ryanair (LON:RYA) investors have called for its chairman to step down and for the budget airline to start planning for a successor to its long-serving chief executive as pressure grows for it to freshen up its leadership.
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) wants Ryanair to start planning for a successor to Michael O’Leary, who has been chief executive since 1994, and for its chairman of more than 20 years, David Bonderman, to be replaced after the Irish airline's recent operational and reputation struggles, according to UK media reports.
Ryanair has had a tough year and last week reported a 7% fall in first-half earnings after being hit by higher fuel costs and the impact of cabin crew strikes across Europe, which dented bookings. Just under a third of the budget airline’s shareholders voted against Bonderman’s reappointment at its annual general meeting last month.
The LAPFF, which represents the pension funds of local authorities across the UK holding combined assets worth more than £230bn, holds roughly 1% of Ryanair.
Ian Greenwood, the LAPFF chair, has written to Ryanair’s nomination committee saying it will file the resolutions in favour of the changes at Ryanair’s next annual meeting in September 2019, according to the reports.
Under Irish company law, investors holding 3% of shares can introduce a resolution, meaning the LAPFF must seek the support of other large shareholders.
Other major investors in Ryanair including Royal London Asset Management are likely to continue to vote against the reappointment of Bonderman until a new chair is appointed.
“Ryanair shareholders recently passed all AGM resolutions by a large majority, including the nomination of directors and chairman. They appreciate how fortunate we are to have an outstanding chairman like David Bonderman to guide the board and the airline,” Ryanair said in a statement.
Shares in Ryanair were 0.9% down at €12.19 in early mid-morning trade.