Alan Joyce has sold $17 million in Qantas shares ahead of his exit from the top job in November.
The shares, which sources told the Australian Financial Review were purchased for $1.50 apiece in 2012, sold for $6.74 each through ANZ, netting the outgoing Qantas CEO around $14.8 million. Joyce still owns many shares in the Flying Kangaroo, and has rights to more including a retention bonus given to him during the pandemic.
Qantas has seen a surge in its share price of around 23 per cent as travel demand returned over the last year. Last month the Flying Kangaroo released estimates putting its full-year profit for FY23 as between $2.425 billion and $2.475 billion, with a net debt of $2.7-$2.9 billion as of 30 June 2023. The estimate follows a record $1.428 billion half-year profit to December 2022.
Joyce is stepping down as CEO of Qantas at the November AGM, to be replaced by CFO Vanessa Hudson, who beat back stiff competition for the biggest job in Australian aviation. Rivals are rumoured to have included the upcoming head of Project Sunrise Cameron Wallace, new Jetstar CEO Stephanie Tully, and Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
“A lot of thought has gone into this succession, and the board had a number of high-quality candidates to consider, both internally and externally,” said Chairman Richard Goyder last month.
“Vanessa has a deep understanding of this business after almost three decades in a range of roles both onshore and offshore, across commercial, customer and finance. She has a huge amount of airline experience, and she’s an outstanding leader.
“For the past five years, Vanessa has had a direct hand in shaping our strategy as a member of the Group Management Committee, and her handling of the finance and treasury portfolio during the COVID crisis was outstanding. She also led the fleet selection process in 2022 for the renewal of our domestic jet aircraft over the next decade.
“A key strength of Qantas is the sheer depth of talent it has, and Vanessa will be supported by a deep bench of executives across the organisation as well as by the board.
“This transition is happening at a time when the Qantas Group is extremely well positioned. We have a clear strategy, a strong balance sheet and record profitability that supports a pipeline of investment for customers, opportunities for our people and returns to shareholders.
“Much of the credit for the bright future in front of Qantas goes to Alan. He’s faced more than his fair share of challenges as CEO, and he’s managed them exceptionally well – from the GFC to record oil prices to intense competitive pressures and the COVID crisis.”
Joyce, meanwhile, said he intends to get “well away from aircraft” and cruise around the Antarctic when he stands down after 15 years.
In his first comments on his future, Joyce also said he intends to “take six months off, decompress” and “not make any decisions”.