EasyJet ups dividend as earnings rise

EASYJET yesterday announced a £150m special dividend as the company raised profit guidance, thanks to a boost from business travellers and short-break tourists.

The airline announced a total payout of £190m – including a year-end dividend of £40m – for the year to 30 September.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “When we announced our strategy last November we announced the first dividend in the airline’s history [and that] if there was excess liquidity ... we would return it to shareholders.”

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyJet and its largest shareholder with a 38 per cent stake, has been locked in a dispute with the board and has called for more dividends and less expansion of the fleet. He resigned from the board last year

The company raised its pre-tax profit guidance for the year to between £240m-£250m, from its original forecast of between £200m-£230m.

EasyJet shares rose nine per cent yesterday.

TIME LINE | EASYJET BOARD’S BATTLE WITH STELIOS

March 2010
EasyJet plc announces that Carolyn McCall OBE will be the new chief executive of the company

May 2010
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyJet’s founder, resigns from the airline's board, saying he is unhappy with the way the company operates. The budget airline is aiming to expand its share of Europe's short-haul market from about seven per cent currently to ten.

June 2010
The dispute goes to the high court as Stelios accuses the company of breaching brand agreements.

October 2010
EasyJet resolves a long-running brand dispute which sees the discount airline's founder lose his right to appoint himself chairman of the board or to appoint members. Under a new brand agreement he will receive an annual royalty of 0.25 per cent of easyJet's total revenues.

July 2011
Stelios launches new assault on company's decision to order planes from Airbus.

August 2011
Stelios demands an EGM to get rid of senior non-executive director Sir David Michels, who then steps down. A month later, Stelios calls for another director, Rigas Doganis, to leave.