Rake narrowly clings on to easyJet chair

Marion Dakers
SIR MICHAEL Rake has held on to his chairmanship of easyJet, after a rebellion led by founder Sir Stelios Hajj-Ioannou narrowly failed to garner enough support to oust him.

Around 47 per cent of easyJet investors yesterday backed Stelios’s attempt to get rid of Rake, including the tycoon and his family’s 37.2 per cent holding.

EasyJet said after the investor meeting that Sir Michael actually won support from 96 per cent of shareholders, excluding Stelios’s shares and ignoring the one in six investors who did not cast a vote.

Stelios called yesterday’s meeting at easyJet’s hanger in Luton as part of his long-running attempt to dethrone Sir Michael, most recently due to his role as deputy chairman at scandal-hit Barclays.

Rake had been favourite to take the chair at Barclays after the furore over Libor-rigging felled incumbent Marcus Agius and chief executive Bob Diamond, but has since ruled himself out of the job.

EasyJet had long claimed it was confident of a victory, having revealed before the meeting that several large institutions had given their blessing to Sir Michael. A number of smaller shareholders and Stelios’s spokesperson quizzed the board on the chairman’s suitability yesterday.

Stelios, who founded easyJet in 1995, claimed a moral victory yesterday. “The more people ask these questions, the more accountability we have,” he said.

“In my mind the City has confirmed its reputation as the place where conflicts of interest and web of directorships are encouraged and protected for the benefit of a handful of insiders.”

EasyJet said its board “continues to seek a constructive relationship with all its shareholders”.