Ryanair Holdings has initiated a forced sale of shares that have been acquired by or on behalf of United Kingdom nationals since January 1, 2021, the company has outlined in a stock exchange disclosure.

As a result of Brexit, UK citizens have been barred from buying stock in the Irish low-cost airline since the UK-EU split took effect at the start of this year.

If such purchases have been made by or on behalf of UK nationals, Ryanair Holdings - parent of Ryanair, Malta Air, Buzz, and Lauda Europe - has treated them as “restricted shares” and told the owners to dispose of them to EU nationals, it explained in the September 8 filing.

This has been necessary to ensure the company’s continued compliance with EU airline ownership and control requirements, it said. Some investors have not complied, however, and as a result Ryanair “has initiated the forced sale of approximately 1 million ordinary shares in accordance with its Articles of Association.”

Ryanair Holdings has appointed a broker to conduct the sale independently of, and uninfluenced by, the company over the coming weeks, it added, and “the net proceeds will be transmitted to the relevant investors in due course.” The company currently has around 222 million shares outstanding according to company data.

Britons who already owned shares in the company - which is traded in Dublin, London, and New York - have been allowed to keep holdings that were acquired before January 1.

“It is expected that the company may initiate further forced sales of restricted shares from time to time,” Ryanair warned, and it “may elect to do so without any further announcement.”

The prohibition on non-EU nationals acquiring ordinary shares in Ryanair Holdings, as announced in February 2002, continues to apply. But non-EU nationals including UK citizens can continue to invest in it via its American Depositary Receipt scheme on the NASDAQ in the United States.