Easyjet founder is losing out: board remains on and aircraft purchase continues

The three largest shareholders after founder Haji-Ioannou – Invesco, Ninety One U.K. and Phoenix Asset Management – publicly declared support to the board. That may now continue, reports Bloomberg news agency based on a preliminary vote.

Haji-Ioannou, who owns 34 percent of the price fighter’s shares, wanted CEO Johan Lundgren, finance director Andrew Findlay and chairman John Barton to retire.

15 years of quarrel

Haji-Ioannou has been fighting plans of successive directors for more than 15 years. They would all invest too much. He blamed the current board that the plans to purchase 107 new Airbus aircraft were € 5 billion too expensive.

The Easyjet founder wanted that order canceled because it would affect the airline’s reserves. In addition, Easyjet should reduce its fleet from 318 to 250 aircraft.

Tips and Rewards

In mid-May, he sent an open letter asking for tips on dissolving the purchase agreement. He rewards those involved in the purchase agreement with a small tip with £ 10,000, and “whistleblowers” with information leading to the termination of the purchase agreement, he rewards with £ 5 million.

If it was not possible to cancel the Airbus order, Haji-Ioannou wanted to vote the four directors away at a special shareholders meeting. So that did not work.

‘Voting away board harmful in critical time’

According to CEO Barton, the wishes of founder Haji-Ioannou would run counter to a long-term contract with Airbus. Voting the four top executives would also be ‘extremely harmful and destabilizing’ in this ‘critical time’.

Financial director Lundgren has postponed the delivery of 24 aircraft. This will save the company £ 1 billion in investment in the short term. Canceling the order was unwise, according to the CEO, because Easyjet should be able to renew its fleet when air traffic picks up again.


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