The board of directors of Ryanair At its last meeting last Friday, it approved the restriction of the voting rights of the British shareholders and the prohibition that they can acquire new titles with the prospect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (EU) without agreement, the call Brexit hard, according to the airline in a statement sent today to the London Stock Exchange.
In this way, the company and all its subsidiary airlines ensure that they will have a majority of the capital owned by community shareholders in accordance with Regulation UE 1008/2008, one of whose requirements establishes that more than 50% of their shares must be in hands of holders of the EU, as a condition to be able to operate throughout the continent under the "open skies" policy.
The company that still runs Michael O'Leary already had announced that it would restrict the voting rights of British shareholders but I was confident that we would finally arrive at a friendly exit from the EU of the United Kingdom. Ryanair is now in the worst of scenarios. Its board of directors has resolved that, from the "day of the hard Brexit" (Hard Brexit Day) all ordinary and deposit shares held by or on behalf of non-EU shareholders, including the United Kingdom, will be considered as "restricted shares" and will be notified as such to their holders.
In this way, the holders of each restricted share "shall not have the right to attend, speak or vote at any general meeting of the company while those shares are treated as restricted shares".
Likewise, "to avoid doubts", British citizens will not be able to buy ordinary shares from the day of the hard Brexit, a date that could be next March 29, the official exit from the United Kingdom of the EU. These measures will take effect on the day that British citizens cease to be considered "community residents".
The case of Iberia, in the air
With the approval by the board of directors of these measures, Ryanair takes a decisive step to shield itself against a hard Brexit, which other companies such as IAG, the parent company of Iberia and Vueling, have not yet dared to adopt. The European Commission has set a deadline of six months for airlines under British control, such as Iberia, to adapt their shareholding in case of a UK exit from the EU without an agreement.
IBeria, owned by the British IAG, could lose its flight license in Europe, if it does not meet the requirement that at least 51% of the shareholders be European. The Spanish company will stop fulfilling that criterion when the British capital passes to count as extracommunity from the day the United Kingdom stops being a member of the EU.
And, for the moment, IAG has decided to limit the maximum capital to 47.5% in the hands of foreign shareholders that they do not come from the European Union, but counting the British shareholders, and with a hard Brexit they would lose that condition, since the British capital will be computed as extra-community.