Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Ryanair CFO checks out after 23 years

RYANAIR chief financial officer Howard Millar is leaving the low-cost airline after more than 23 years with the business to pursue “other career opportunities”.

Millar, who also serves as the company’s deputy chief executive, will leave in December and take up a position as non-executive director on Ryanair’s board in mid-2015, the airline said in a statement.

He will be replaced as CFO by his deputy Neil Sorahan, who has worked at Ryanair for almost 12 years as treasurer and finance director.

Millar is the second deputy chief executive to quit Ryanair in the past few months, following the departure of Michael Cawley, chief commercial officer and deputy chief executive, earlier this year.

According to comments made to Bloomberg, Millar is leaving the airline because there is little prospect of getting the top job as current CEO Michael O’Leary has said repeatedly in recent months that he does not intend to leave any time soon.

“I’m in a situation where the chief executive is the same age as me, and I don’t think he’s going anywhere soon,” Millar, who like O’Leary is 53, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “I don’t want to look back in five or six years’ time and say, ‘Maybe I should have looked to do something else.'”

Millar joined Ryanair as financial controller in April 1992, and was promoted to FD a year later before becoming CFO in 2003. He is also credited with playing a leading role in the airline’s initial public offering in 1997 and helping grow the airline from 650,000 passengers in 1991 to 81 million last year. Most recently, Millar completed the company’s debut €850m (£678m) bond issue.

“Millar was an extremely strong CFO, central to some key events in Ryanair’s growth – from the (1997) IPO to the aircraft deals and most recently the bond placement,” Gerard Moore, an analyst at Investec, told Reuters.

Commenting on the departure, CEO O’Leary said Millar had “developed an excellent senior management team in finance” and that, in Sorahan, the company has a “very strong in-house replacement”.

Millar described Sorahan as a “pivotal member” of the finance team. “I am particularly pleased that the time and effort we have invested in developing a very strong senior management team will ensure there is a smooth transition of the finance function to Neil over the next six months,” he said.

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