EASYJET founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has never been shy about letting the airline’s management know what he really thinks.
But yesterday’s attack on chairman Mike Rake’s team, in which he paints EasyJet lawyers Herbert Smith in an unflattering light, was the straw that broke the London Stock Exchange’s back – it refused to publish the media statement without a full rewrite.
EasyGroup conceded there may have been a couple of areas to bother the exchange in the diatribe released two days before the EasyJet AGM.
Dismissing the law firm’s request for full details of voting arrangements between Stelios and his siblings as “frivolous and vexatious” was one of them. “What I found utterly distasteful was Herbert Smith’s implied threat of legal proceedings if I did not answer their outrageous and intrusive questions,” wrote Stelios.
Shareholder Standard Life, meanwhile, should abstain from voting at tomorrow’s AGM because it is “conflicted by EasyJet’s extensive purchase of Airbus aircraft”. “The situation is beginning to feel like one of Putin’s elections in Russia,” according to Stelios.
EasyGroup said it would lose the statement’s more contentious phrases following a conference call between the RNS legal team and the firm’s PR adviser Citigate, but refused to issue a new draft. “It’s Stelios being Stelios,” said a source. “He is one of the larger-than-life characters in the British business world.”
Herbert Smith and the LSE declined to comment.
FORD ON BOARD
THERE has been some speculation that Stephen Ford of Hoare Govett, one of the firm’s top salesmen, would not be joining his new employers at Jefferies, the US group that has taken on the broker from RBS.
But Ford, speaking from his new Jefferies offices, yesterday put that idle chatter to rest. “I am fully committed to the new owners and very happy to be on board,” he said. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”
SPOTTED dining in one of RBS-owned Coutts’ private dining rooms yesterday: Coutts & Co chief executive Michael Morley and chairman Lord Home. No doubt there was plenty to chew over ahead of RBS’ newsworthy annual results tomorrow.