AT first sight, the departure of Sir Michael Rake as EasyJet chairman is a victory for Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the company’s founder turned thorn-in-its-side. Sir Stelios sought Sir Michael’s removal last summer, following the BT chairman’s appointment to deputy chairman at Barclays, arguing overcommitment.
However, despite public criticism by EasyJet’s largest shareholder, Sir Michael held onto his role when shareholders voted 53.3 per cent in his favour in August.
Perhaps Rake has had enough. But if so, it is only after surviving three years of infighting. More likely, even the multi-tasking knight, who is also a director at McGraw-Hill, may have seen that his EasyJet chairmanship would be impractical to retain if EasyJet entered the FTSE 100.
The rule that used to explicitly forbid holding two FTSE 100 chairmanships was changed in 2010. However, the rule does still provide that individuals must have the necessary time and resources before taking on multiple blue chip chairmanships. There are only so many hours, even in Mike Rake’s day.