EASYJET investors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a huge bonus package for the airline’s top executives despite high-profile opposition from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the carrier’s founder and biggest shareholder.
Yesterday’s annual meeting also saw the return of chairman Sir Michael Rake and board members Adele Anderson, Rigas Doganis and Keith Hammill to office. Stelios voted against all four in respect of the 38 per cent stake owned by him and his family.
Despite failing to block all but two minor resolutions, Stelios claimed a “great victory for shareholder activism”. In a sign that his long-running battle with the board is not yet at an end, he further accused directors of “dodging” questions put forward by his representative at the AGM in Luton.
“Unless Standard Life can categorically confirm that there is no Airbus money in their EasyJet stake and that they have no voting agreement with them or their pension fund, within 48 hours, I may have to legally challenge the AGM result given that votes with a conflict of interest have been counted,” Stelios said in a statement.
“We are only asking for one clear statement, not wishy washy answers.”
The billionaire entrepreneur has suggested that institutional investor Standard Life Investments (SLI) should have abstained from voting because it manages the £4.6 billion pension fund of EADS, parent company to Airbus. The latter is supplying 15 of its A320 aircraft to EasyJet as part of a fleet expansion programme opposed by Stelios.
SLI, EasyJet’s second-largest institutional shareholder, publicly came out in support of the group’s board of directors a few weeks ago.
Delivering a statement on behalf of SLI before the results from yesterday’s poll, investment director Jonathan Cobb encouraged other shareholders to also vote in favour of all resolutions.
Excluding the shares controlled by Stelios, 97 per cent voted in favour of the remuneration package that will award ten executives shares worth some £8m during the next three years.