MICHAEL O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has sold off €18.75m (£16.5m) of stock in the budget airline, it emerged yesterday. <br /><br />O’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 €222m.<br /><br />“The sell-off is a small proportion of O’Leary’s holding,” Panmure Gordon analyst Gert Zonneveld said. <br /><br />He added: “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.”<br /><br />O’Leary has divested shares in Irish carrier Ryanair a number of times before. In 2003 he raised £17m by selling off 4m shares.<br /><br />Ryanair’s net losses for the year to March 2009 were €169.2m. It is forecasting profits between €200m and €300m for the coming year.<br /><br />Last week, Ryanair saw its two motions at Aer Lingus’ annual meeting fail. The buget airline – which has 29.8 per cent stake in Ireland’s flag carrier –was trying to impose limits on executive pay.