Pension companies plan to vote against Ryanair chairman re-election

Several pension companies have called on their shareholders to vote against the re-election of Ryanair chairman, David Bonderman, at the company’s AGM.

This includes the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which oversees around £230bn in pension fund assets across 79 local authority pension schemes.

LAPFF has concerns over Bonderman’s independence, as he has been on the company’s board for 22 years and previously led an investment vehicle, Irish Air L.P., which acquired a minority interest in Ryanair.

Additionally, they are worried about his work as a member of the nomination committee, which has failed to recruit enough independent directors, and believe he has been unsuccessful in his oversight of human capital management issues within the company.

LAPFF chair, Ian Greenwood said: “Mr Bonderman has been chairman for too long and there are significant doubts about his independence. He has not taken a lead on employee relations or making sure customers have received adequate service during the continuing strikes.

“Ryanair has failed to adequately address concerns about the company’s troubled relationship with its employees and the potential impact on its business.”

Other organisations that oppose Bonderman’s re-election include Pensions & Investment Research Consultants, ISS and Glass Lewis.

However, 70.5 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of Bonderman’s re-election.

Despite the support, some of those voting in favour of re-election realise there are problems to overcome, as Aberdeen Standard Investments investment director, Alison Kennedy, explained:

“We were aware of the danger of unintended consequences should these two individuals be voted off the board at this time, particularly as none of the other non-executive directors has served for more than five years.

“That said, given the challenges the company faces, for example in union and labour relations, it is clear that governance needs to evolve. Strong, independent and visible board leadership is more important than ever. So, we expect that there will be clear progress on succession for these two key board positions by the time of the AGM next year. If not, others things being equal, we will vote against the re-election of Mr Bonderman”.

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