Michael O’Leary’s warning for Ryanair’s British investors

The airline’s head honcho suggests EU rules might force them to sell up post-Brexit...

Michael O’Leary’s warning for Ryanair’s British investors

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary | Image: Julien Behal / PA

At Ryanair’s AGM on Wednesday morning, Michael O’Leary took the opportunity to warn some of the airline’s British shareholders that they could be forced to sell out of the company following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Shareholders from non-EU companies are not permitted under EU rules to own more than 50% of an airline registered within the union.

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, rules within the union.

The airline constantly has to manage the proportion of US-based shareholders in case it breaches this threshold.

UK-based shareholders currently own 20% of the airline and may be categorised as non-EU owners following Brexit and forced to reduce or sell their holdings.

Prior to the AGM, O'Leary stopped by Newstalk Breakfast to discuss everything from Ryanair's future to the Dublin Bus strikes and the Apple tax situation.

He said that Ireland should threaten to leave the EU if the European Commission ruling ordering Apple to pay up to €13 billion in back taxes is upheld.

The Ryanair CEO urged the government to demand that the decision is reversed.

"They should go into commission and ministerial meetings, hit the table and say: 'We’re not tolerating this. If this isn’t withdrawn, we’ll consider leaving the EU.'

"That’ll soften their cough."

O’Leary added that he was "disturbed" by Ireland’s "limp-wristed" response to the ruling.

"One of the key fundamental tenets of the European Union is tax autonomy… and Ireland should defend that to the hilt. We should not be told 10 years after the event by some Danish state aid commissioner: 'Sorry, we don’t like the way you don’t that.'

"They only do it to the small countries… This is a case of the European Commission bullying Ireland and Ireland should respond with a far more robust response than just appealing the decision."