MICHAEL O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has sold off €18.75m (£16.5m) of stock in the budget airline, it emerged yesterday.
O’Leary divested 5m shares, taking his holding in the firm down to just over four per cent, equal to 60m shares.
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.
“The sell-off is a small proportion of O’Leary’s holding,” Panmure Gordon analyst Gert Zonneveld said.
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.”
O’Leary has divested shares in Irish carrier Ryanair a number of times before. In 2003 he raised £17m by selling off 4m shares.
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.
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.