Stelios fails in bid to eject top easyJet directors
EasyJet's founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has failed in his attempt to eject the airline's chairman, chief executive and two other directors from the board.
At a specially convened meeting more than 57% of shareholder votes rejected Haji-Ioannou's resolutions calling for the directors' removal. Haji-Ioannou, who owns 34% of the company, got just over 42% support for the resolutions.
Haji-Ioannou called for the removal of Chairman John Barton, Chief Executive Johan Lundgren, Chief Finance Officer Andrew Findlay and senior independent director Andreas Bierwith over the board's decision to go ahead with a £4.5bn order for 107 planes from Airbus. He has claimed easyJet shares would be worthless if the deal proceeded during the worst crisis in aviation industry history.
Barton said: "On behalf of the board I would like to thank shareholders for their support. The airline industry is facing unprecedented challenges and the board's immediate priority has been to take the necessary steps to successfully guide easyJet through this period of uncertainty.
"We are relentlessly focused on cash conservation and ensuring that easyJet emerges from the Covid-19 crisis in a strong competitive position. The board seeks good relationships with all of the company's shareholders and hopes to be able to re-engage constructively with Sir Stelios."
Haji-Ioannou contested the vote, claiming that at least 15% of the shares that voted for the board are controlled by Airbus and were related parties that should have been excluded. He has sought to link easyJet's purchase of planes from Airbus to the aeroplane maker's payment of £3bn in fines after admitting to handing out huge bribes to secure contracts in 20 countries.
The tycoon, who founded easyJet in 1995, said he would carry on looking for reasons for the close relationship between easyJet's board and Airbus. He has offered £5m for information that helps him cancel the purchase of the Airbus planes.