William Eichler 29 October 2018

Council pension fund forum calls for Ryanair chair to step down

An association of council pension funds has called for the replacement of Ryanair’s chair and has urged Michael O’Leary to set out his succession plans.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has said it will file shareholder resolutions at the airline’s next annual general meeting recommending that the company replaces its chair, David Bonderman.

The LAPFF, which holds about 1% of Ryanair’s shares, is also urging the chief executive Michael O’Leary to make clear his succession plans ‘as soon as is practical.’

The decision has come as a result of recent strikes by airline staff.

The LAPFF believes more ‘genuine independent representation’ on the board could have smoothed changes to working conditions and helped avoid industrial action.

The airline’s board assured shareholders at the last AGM that it was listening to their concerns.

However, on the day of Ryanair’s first-half results Mr O’Leary said Mr Bonderman intended to remain in place for one or two more years. He also said the company would set out his succession plans in the next two or three years.

The LAPFF said the shareholders expect action quicker than this.

LAPFF chair Cllr Ian Greenwood wrote to Michael Cawley, chair of Ryanair’s nomination committee, to inform him of the Forum’s decision.

‘Since the AGM, it appears Ryanair faces a prolonged transition to a more stable employment model and improved industrial relations,’ Cllr Greenwood wrote.

‘As long-term shareholders, we believe that Ryanair can continue to grow and prosper, but also consider that this must involve change. We recognise the company has already improved the customer experience through “Always Getting Better” and is in the process of increasing its attractiveness as an employer. 

‘However, Ryanair’s governance has not kept pace with these changes. We consider that more genuinely independent representation on the board could have ensured that these changes were achieved more smoothly.

‘The recent votes on the re-election of both directors illustrated the view that there should be change in key board positions and that the company’s ongoing transition must be accompanied by serious corporate governance reform.

‘Given the absence of a formal announcement of any board changes, it is our intention to file shareholder resolutions at  the next AGM on 19 September 2019 calling for the appointment of a new, independent chair by the end of 2019 and the communication to shareholders of the board’s succession plans for the chief executive as soon as is practical.’  

Image: katatonia82 / Shutterstock.com.

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