Ryanair’s case against Peter Bellew will be watched by group of US share­hold­ers su­ing the air­line:

Air­line tak­ing ac­tion to pre­vent chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer join­ing ri­val Easyjet Case of in­ter­est to US share­hold­ers su­ing Ryanair over in­dus­trial re­la­tions state­ment

The Irish Times - - Front Page - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

A group of US share­hold­ers who are su­ing Ryanair will closely watch the air­line’s le­gal ac­tion against its out­go­ing chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer, Peter Bellew, this week.

Ryanair’s High Court ac­tion to pre­vent Mr Bellew join­ing ri­val Easyjet next month be­gins today and is ex­pected to last for the rest of the week.

US in­vestors, led by the City of Birm­ing­ham Fire­men’s and Po­lice­men’s Sup­ple­men­tal Pen­sion Sys­tem, which own shares in the Ir­ish car­rier, have hired lawyers from a large Dublin firm to watch the pro­ceed­ings for them. The pen­sion fund, run by the City of Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, led a group of in­vestors that last year filed pa­pers in a New York court against Ryanair and its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Michael O’Leary.

The share­hold­ers claimed that the air­line made mis­lead­ing state­ments about its in­dus­trial re­la­tions. Ryanair and Mr O’Leary dis­missed these claims as “in­vented”.

The case be­tween Ryanair and Mr Bellew be­gins today be­fore Mr Jus­tice Se­nan Allen. It is un­der­stood to hinge on an agree­ment tied to share op­tions is­sued to Mr Bellew and other se­nior man­agers in 2018.

Ryanair con­firmed that it in­tended tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against Mr Bellew shortly af­ter Easyjet con­firmed him as its new chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer.

Join­ing com­peti­tors

Mr O’Leary said af­ter the the air­line’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing that all se­nior man­agers had agree­ments bar­ring them from join­ing com­peti­tors for 12 months af­ter they leave the com­pany. He noted that these were tied to share op­tions given to man­agers.

Ryanair’s an­nual report and fil­ings with the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion show it has given share op­tions to se­nior man­agers sev­eral times since 2014.

The SEC fil­ings state that dur­ing its 2019 fi­nan­cial year, Ryanair gave 10 mil­lion share op­tions to 102 se­nior man­agers and 11 non-ex­ec­u­tive board mem­bers.

Man­agers can take these up be­tween Septem­ber 2024 and Fe­bru­ary 2026 if prof­its top ¤2 bil­lion or the shares trade at ¤21 each over 28 days be­tween 2021 and 2024.

Ac­cord­ing to the an­nual report, there were 39.8 mil­lion op­tions out­stand­ing on March 31st, 2019, the end of its last fi­nan­cial year. The av­er­age price at which these could be ex­er­cised was ¤9.38.

Ryanair de­clined to com­ment on the court ac­tion.

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