Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, EasyJet’s founder, has dropped an attempt to remove one of the low-cost airline’s board members after the company agreed to pay dividends for the first time.
Sir Stelios, EasyJet’s largest shareholder, has been involved in a protracted dispute with the airline over strategy and this month he called for a vote to remove Rigas Doganis, a non-executive director.
EasyJet, which opposed Sir Stelios’ latest attempt to change the board’s composition, said on Friday that EasyGroup, his private company, had withdrawn a request to convene an extraordinary general meeting to vote on Mr Doganis’ removal.
“The board of EasyJet welcomes this withdrawal as it viewed an EGM as an unnecessary and costly distraction,” said EasyJet.
“EasyJet looks forward to engaging constructively with EasyGroup as it does with its other shareholders.”
Sir Stelios was not available for comment.
Carolyn McCall, EasyJet’s chief executive, had been confident of defeating Sir Stelios’ planned resolution to remove Mr Doganis.
Sir Stelios’ family has a 38 per cent stake in EasyJet, but Ms McCall believed a majority of shareholders would support the board’s call to reject EasyGroup’s proposed resolution.
On Thursday, EasyJet used a pre-close statement on its 2010-11 results to announce its first ever dividends.
The airline, which raised its pre-tax profit guidance for the year and had gross cash of £1.4bn at March 31, plans to issue ordinary and special dividends worth £190m.
Analysts said the dividends were a victory of sorts for Sir Stelios, who has been calling for a pay-out for several years.
Sir Stelios has also been urging EasyJet to curb its fleet expansion and this month he singled out Mr Doganis for supporting the purchase of new Airbus aircraft. Mr Doganis, a non-executive director since 2005 and airline industry consultant, has declined to comment.
Last month, Sir David Michels, EasyJet’s former deputy chairman, announced he was stepping down earlier than planned after Sir Stelios sought an extraordinary general meeting to secure his removal.
EasyJet’s founder had clashed with Sir David over a £1m payment to Andy Harrison, EasyJet’s former chief executive who Sir Stelios criticised for expanding the airline’s fleet.
As well as securing dividends, Sir Stelios last year turned a £1 annual payment from EasyJet into a minimum £4m a year after signing a new branding deal to settle a two-year row with the airline. The total amount EasyJet pays Sir Stelios in the first decade of the 50-year agreement could be close to £100m.
EasyJet shares rose 3.5 per cent to 352p in London.
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