Michael O'Leary sells off 16.5m of Ryanair stock

MICHAEL O&rsquo;Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has sold off &euro;18.75m (&pound;16.5m) of stock in the budget airline, it emerged yesterday. <br /><br />O&rsquo;Leary divested 5m shares, taking his holding in the firm down to just over four per cent, equal to 60m shares. <br /><br />The news comes after Ryanair last week fell to its first full-year loss in two decades, after it was forced to write down the value of its stake in rival airline Aer Lingus by &euro;222m.<br /><br />&ldquo;The sell-off is a small proportion of O&rsquo;Leary&rsquo;s holding,&rdquo; Panmure Gordon analyst Gert Zonneveld said. <br /><br />He added: &ldquo;If he sold off the same amount annually, as he has done in the past, it would still take him 12 years to sell his entire stake.&rdquo;<br /><br />O&rsquo;Leary has divested shares in Irish carrier Ryanair a number of times before. In 2003 he raised &pound;17m by selling off 4m shares.<br /><br />Ryanair&rsquo;s net losses for the year to March 2009 were &euro;169.2m. It is forecasting profits between &euro;200m and &euro;300m for the coming year.<br /><br />Last week, Ryanair saw its two motions at Aer Lingus&rsquo; annual meeting fail. The buget airline &ndash; which has 29.8 per cent stake in Ireland&rsquo;s flag carrier &ndash;was trying to impose limits on executive pay.