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Why Michael O'Leary Is No Local Hero (int'l edition)

Within Europe, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary is a popular guy. Not a week goes by without a new pitch from some European politician hoping to persuade the Irish carrier to begin servicing an airport in his constituency. And in the City, London's financial district, O'Leary's straight talk and stellar financial results have earned him a loyal following. But it's a different story back in Ireland, where O'Leary is viewed with a mix of envy and suspicion.

Ryanair may be one of Ireland's top 10 listed companies, but its CEO is no hometown hero. It's not the controversial ads depicting the Pope touting Ryanair fares that have hurt O'Leary's image in Catholic Ireland. And it's certainly not the low airfares. The real problem seems to be O'Leary's success. In Ireland, entrepreneurs don't hold the same cachet as they do in the U.S. And newfound wealth generally is treated with apprehension. Indeed, every time O'Leary sells even the smallest amount of his nearly 8% stake in the airline, he's lambasted by the press which accuses him of "flogging off shares" while expecting his investors to sit tight.