Sir Stelios Threatens EasyJet Showdown

Sir Stelios Threatens EasyJet Showdown

EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has stoked up his increasingly bitter feud with the airline by vowing to vote against the company at its annual meeting later this month.

The entrepreneur, who with his family holds 36% of easyJet's shares, will oppose the re-election of Sir Mike Rake as non-executive chairman and the board's remuneration report.

Last month he threatened to sell off his family's huge stake in the low-cost operator.

The meeting in Luton on February 21 will be another showdown in the long-running protest by Sir Stelios, who is unhappy at the company's plans to place a large order for a fleet of more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Sir Stelios, who last year failed in two attempts to oust Sir Mike, insists the new planes are not necessary and will be acquired at the detriment of shareholders.

He is also unhappy that Sir Mike is standing for re-election, when he has already announced he will leave the company in the summer because easyJet's expected promotion to the FTSE 100 Index will conflict with his role as chairman of another blue-chip company, BT Group.

Sir Stelios said: "We do not believe directors who have resigned should be allowed to commit any company to a major programme of capital expenditure that will burden the company for five to seven years after their departure."

The tycoon, who claims he has no favourites about who the next chairman should be, believes Sir Mike's other roles, including as deputy chairman of Barclays, mean he is too busy to do justice to all the jobs.

However, easyJet has said it is encouraged that advisory service ISS has urged shareholders to vote in favour of all resolutions at the AGM.

It has said: "Our institutional shareholders have strongly supported the board at recent general meetings and we are confident that they will continue to do so at easyJet's forthcoming AGM."

The airline is currently the 83rd biggest public company in UK and with a market capitalisation of £3.9bn is on track to enter FTSE 100 when the index's next reshuffle takes place in March.

Its shares are currently at an all-time high and have already climed by 25% this year. The airline posted better-than-expected results last month.

Sir Stelios founded easyJet in 1995 and resigned as chairman 10 years ago.

He remained as a director until 2010, when he quit the board following a row over strategy.