SYDNEY- Recent court documents have unveiled that former Qantas (QF) CEO Alan Joyce sold $17 million in shares shortly after the airline provided information on canceled flights to the ACCC.
The Australian Financial Review reported that Joyce divested the shares, representing over 90% of his Qantas stake, just three days after the airline shared details with the consumer watchdog regarding more than 10,000 canceled flights.
Qantas Ex-CEO Joyce Sold Shares
According to the documents filed in the Federal Court by the ACCC’s law firm Baker McKenzie, Qantas submitted a spreadsheet on May 29 outlining the flights at the center of the ongoing court action. However, many of these flights were subsequently excluded as customers had been informed within two days.
Insiders informed the Financial Review that Joyce’s shares, acquired at $1.50 each in 2012, were sold for $6.74 each through ANZ on June 1, resulting in the outgoing Qantas CEO earning approximately $14.8 million.
Despite the sale, Joyce retained many shares in the airline, including rights to additional shares and a retention bonus received during the pandemic.
The ACCC had sought cancellation data in September of the previous year, issuing compulsory information notices to Qantas on April 26. Directors are permitted to trade shares unless they are responding to undisclosed information that they know will impact the stock price.
The matter of Joyce’s stock divestment surfaced during the contentious AGM of the airline on Friday, leading Chairman Richard Goyder to silence shareholder Chris Maxworthy’s microphone when he raised questions on the topic. This action was met with expressions of disapproval from the attendees.
In a piece for the Financial Review, Maxworthy urged the board to reclaim some of Joyce’s bonuses as a step toward “rebuilding Qantas’ social license.”
“Up to $16 million of Joyce’s recent performance incentives are currently within the board’s authority to reclaim. If the board aims to restore the airline’s reputation, repudiating a substantial portion of these bonus incentives would be a meaningful starting point,” he expressed.
“In the court of public opinion, this action would garner strong support and demonstrate that the board is now more attuned to the authentic spirit of Australia.”
A Qantas spokesperson had previously informed the Financial Review that recent ACCC investigations involving compulsory information notices did not yield any adverse findings.
“As of August 28, the ACCC communicated in writing to Qantas that it was still finalizing its investigation. The first instance of this issue turning into legal action occurred when the ACCC announced it on August 31,” stated the spokesperson.
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