Sir Stelios hits out at easyJet pay decisions

 
Marion Dakers
EASYJET’S largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has spoken out against an ex-chief executive’s pay, in the latest flare-up between the budget airline and its founder that could cause fireworks at next week’s AGM.

Sir Stelios, whose family owns a 38 per cent stake in easyJet, wrote to chairman Michael Rake to complain that former chief executive Andy Harrison was paid £2.2m between April and September 2010, despite leaving his full-time post in July.

“The main criticism… is that by insulating the pay of Harrison from the actual results in the 2009 deal, he gave the CEO the right to destroy shareholder value in the summer of 2010 with impunity,” Sir Stelios said.

Harrison, who is now the chief executive of Whitbread, replied in a statement: “As chief executive of easyJet, my job was to implement the strategy agreed by the board.

“All aspects of my remuneration were determined by the remuneration committee and to the best of my knowledge were communicated to the full board.”

Sir Stelios wrote that he plans to vote against a resolution to approve directors’ pay at the shareholder meeting next Thursday, and will also abstain from a vote to re-elect David Michels as senior independent director.

EasyJet shares, which took a battering last month after forecasting £160m half-year losses, fell 2.2 per cent yesterday to close at 380.5p.

TIMELINE | EASYJET’S FIGHTS WITH FOUNDER SIR STELIOS
March 1995
Stelios Haji-Ioannou sets up easyJet using funds from his family’s shipping business

22 November 2000
EasyJet floats on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the firm at £777m

26 November 2002
Stelios resigns as easyJet chairman to spend more time on other ventures

May 2005
Stelios returns to the board as a non-exec; seven months later Andy Harrison joins as chief executive

August 2008
Stelios takes easyJet to court for using the “easy” brand to make money from ventures that compete with his other businesses

November 2008
Stelios raises his stake in easyJet and demands two additional board seats, after refusing to sign off the firm’s accounts

July 2010
Harrison quits after a row over strategy and is replaced by Carolyn McCall

14 May 2010
After failing to nominate board members, Stelios resigns again in order to lobby for strategy change as an investor

11 October 2010
EasyJet agrees a deal to pay Stelios to use the “easy” brand name on certain non-airline services