Stelios plots against chief exec at fiery EasyJet AGM

Feb 11, 2013

Airline founder plans to vote against 'overpaid' chief executive Carolyn McCall as he battles with board

Getty Images

EASYJET is poised for a fractious AGM (annual general meeting) next week after founder Sir Stelios Haji-Iaonnou announced he will vote against a £5m pay package for chief executive Carolyn McCall, arguing she is "overpaid".

Sir Stelios, who owns 36 per cent of EasyJet shares, has waged a long-running feud with the airline's board and last August attempted to oust non-executive chairman Sir Mike Rake, whom he believes is to blame for the "unjustifiable" pay increases, at an extraordinary meeting.

The Financial Times said the magnate, who founded the airline in 1995, also plans to vote against a new package of £3m for chief financial officer Chris Kennedy and against the re-election of Sir Mike at the meeting on 21 February.

Sir Stelios remains unhappy at the airline's plans to order more fuel-efficient aircraft, with the entrepreneur and his family already selling £5m worth of shares in protest at the purchase. They have warned they will sell all their stock if EasyJet "squanders" money on the order, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

In a letter to shareholders, Sir Stelios says he believes Sir Mike – who will step down this summer when EasyJet becomes a FTSE 100 company, to avoid a conflict of interest with his chairmanship of BT - should not "commit any company to a major programme of capital expenditure that will burden the company for five to 10 years" ahead of his departure.

He also believes Sir Mike's roles - with the telecoms giant, Barclay's and Standard & Poor's - mean he is too busy to be effective in his work with EasyJet.

Though McCall has been credited with improving passenger numbers, Stelios claimed her proposed million-pound pay package was excessive, saying it was "about 10 times" more than she earned in her previous executive role at the Guardian.

Despite turmoil at the top, EasyJet shares are at an all-time high, surging 25 per cent after the airline posted better-than-expected results last month.

Sign up for our daily newsletter