EASYJET shareholders, led by founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, gave the budget airline a bloody nose yesterday after withholding approval for last year’s board pay.
Sir Stelios had called for investors to vote down the 2010 pay package, which gave former chief executive Andy Harrison a £1m lump sum on top of his salary even though he left the firm in July.
Shareholder body PIRC advised investors to oppose the pay report because of Harrison’s award and “the excessiveness of the maximum potential awards,” and the vote against the measures passed by more than 10m votes at the firm’s AGM yesterday.
“This morning’s result proves beyond doubt that I am not the only shareholder who feels that Andrew Harrison’s compensation package was undeserved and completely unjustified,” said Sir Stelios, who has a 26 per cent stake in the company but left the board for a second time last May in a dispute over strategy.
It is thought that the firm cannot recall the payments, which were paid out to directors over a year ago.
EasyJet said earlier in February that the remuneration vote was an advisory, non-binding resolution and therefore could not be defeated even if a majority of shareholders vote against it.
Chairman Sir Michael Rake told shareholders at the meeting that the pay deals “were a one off and agreed in unusual and difficult circumstances”, referring to the departure of chairman and chief financial offer within weeks of each other in early 2009.
EasyJet’s shares closed down 1.6 per cent at 377p, against an overall rise in the FTSE 250 index.