Sir Stelios plans easyJet showdown

SteliosSir Stelios Haji-Ioannou stoked up his feud with the airline he founded by vowing to vote against the company at its annual meeting.

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, as well as the board's remuneration report.

The meeting in Luton on February 21 will be another showdown in a 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 failed in attempts to oust Sir Mike at meetings in August and last February, believes the new planes are not necessary and will be acquired at the detriment of shareholders.

He is 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 5-7 years after their departure."

The tycoon, who says 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.

Easyjet said it was encouraged that advisory service ISS has urged shareholders to vote in favour of all resolutions at the AGM.

It added: 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 £3.9 billion is on track to enter the ranks of blue-chip firms when the next reshuffle takes place in March.

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