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Pension fund forum hails move to replace Ryanair chair

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The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has welcomed Ryanair’s plan to replace its board chair, following a row over succession planning at the airline.

Ryanair announced that chair David Bonderman will not seek re-election when he steps down next summer, as the airline posted net losses of £17.2m for the last three months of 2018.

LAPFF had been intending to file resolutions to remove Mr Bonderman at the airline’s next annual general meeting, citing concerns about his independence after 22 years chairing Ryanair. The forum has now put those plans on hold.

Stan McCarthy, a Ryanair board member since May 2017, will become deputy chair in April and then chair in summer 2020.

The airline said he will “bring his enormous international experience” – including as a former chief executive of the Irish food company Kerry Group – and leadership skills to Ryanair, but added that “a legend like David Bonderman will be a very hard act to follow”.

LAPFF said it would ask Mr McCarthy “to plan the appointment of independent directors to the board and improve communications with shareholders, employees and other stakeholders as soon as possible”, adding that it would “continue to press for improved governance” at Ryanair.

Explaining its financial results, the airline cited “excess winter capacity in Europe”, as well as fuel, staff and regulatory costs. Last year Ryanair endured a series of industrial disputes with its staff.

While the forum has won its battle over Mr Bonderman, its previous request for a clear succession plan to be set for Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary seem no further forward.

The airline confirmed Mr O’Leary would become group chief executive at Ryanair, with the airline restructuring into four subsidiaries, each with its own chief executive and management team.

As part of this Mr O’Leary has agreed a five-year contract, taking him to July 2024.

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