Just a day after a major Ryanair shareholder announced new plans to oust the airline’s longterm Chairman, unions have now claimed David Bonderman didn’t even receive the level of support at this year’s annual general meeting as originally reported. Trade unions and some shareholders are calling on Bonderman to go, saying his presence is creating a hostile environment for the airline’s employees.
During Ryanair’s AGM in September, the airline said Bonderman received 70.5% of shareholder votes in favour of his reelection to the board. Although support for Bonderman was slightly down on previous years, Ryanair claimed the vote was a vindication of his presence on the board – but the figure crucially ignored abstentions.
When they are taken into account, the level of support for Bonderman actually drops to just 67%. If you exclude the shares belonging to Ryanair’s director’s then the support falls even further – at a mere 65%. That would make Bonderman the least popular ISEQ20 chair and would mean opposition runs at 10 times more than the average Irish company director.
Yesterday, the UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) which owns a 1% stake in Ryanair said it was planning on filing a resolution at the airline’s next AGM in September 2019 to force Bonderman off the board. The group has written to other major shareholders to drum up support for the resolution – LAPFF would need a total of 3% of shareholders to give it the power to file the resolution.
Shareholders have grown tired of Ryanair’s handling of industrial strife at the airline – many, including LAPFF, think a more independent board is needed to improve the company’s relationship with its own workers. Some shareholders have even been quietly reducing their shares in the airline over the debacle.
Capital Group has reduced its stake from 17.01% to 14.54%, while FMR has gone from a 4.94% stake in August to just 3% by the 16th of October.
Bonderman has been on Ryanair’s board since 1996 and has hinted at stepping down from his position in the next few years. LAPFF, though says “shareholders have made it clear they expect action quicker than this.”
During this year’s AGM, Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary said it might limit foreign shareholders from filing resolutions next year. This would effectively prevent LAPFF from attempting to oust Bonderman or making calls for change at the airline.