EasyJet chair to quit after three turbulent years

Marion Dakers
EASYJET chairman Sir Mike Rake plans to step down from the board this summer, after three years of locking horns with the budget airline’s founder and biggest shareholder.

Sir Mike faced down calls for his resignation last year from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, whose family holds a 37 per cent stake in EasyJet. Sir Stelios dubbed the chairman “Mr Conflict of Interest” over his non-executive roles at Barclays and BT.

Sir Mike said the timing was right for his resignation, as EasyJet stands on “the threshold of entry to the FTSE 100”.

Sir Mike is the chairman of BT, another FTSE 100 component, meaning he would fall foul of corporate governance guidelines if EasyJet was promoted to the blue chip index during the next reshuffle in March.

Sir Mike will still stand for re-election at the firm’s annual meeting on 21 February to ensure a smooth handover to his as-yet-unnamed successor by the summer.

Charles Gurassa, deputy chairman since September 2011, has been named as a contender to take over the chairmanship.

Sir Mike was often the target of Sir Stelios’ ire over EasyJet’s plans to replace some of its fleet.

It is thought that Sir Stelios was ready to voice fresh criticism of the chairman as the shareholder meeting drew near.

“In advance of the forthcoming AGM I wanted to make my position clear,” said Sir Mike in a statement over the weekend.

“EasyJet has by any definition enjoyed a period of success and profitable growth in the last three years.”