EasyJet founder defeated over executive bonuses

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Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou faced an humiliating defeat at the hands of easyJet shareholders yesterday, when they overwhelmingly backed a multi-million pound executives bonus package which he had vociferously opposed.

More than 97 per cent of easyJet investors, apart from the 38 per cent stake owned by Sir Stelios and his family, voted to pass the airline's remuneration deal, which means 10 executives could receive shares worth around £8m over the next three years.

Sir Stelios also failed to encourage enough investors to reject the re-election of four directors, including chairman Sir Mike Rake.

He was re-elected with 99.6 per cent of non-Sir Stelios votes. The chief executive Carolyn McCall was re-elected with 99.8 per cent of those votes.

The results came after easyJet's chairman Sir Mike Rake used its annual meeting to threaten legal action against the airline's founder. He said: "We have advised Stelios that we have reserved our rights to take legal action for potential defamation and repeated breaches of the brand agreement."

Sir Mike claimed Sir Stelios had run a campaign of "inappropriate and defamatory" attacks on the airline's executives. He has spent the past few weeks condemning the airline for the way it calculates bonuses for its bosses and earlier this week claimed easyJet's corporate activity was "beginning to feel like one of Putin's elections in Russia".

After the vote, the chairman said: "It's clear from the votes cast that easyJet's shareholders have overwhelmingly voted with the board and we thank them for their support."

The remuneration report passed with 55 per cent of all shareholder votes, including Sir Stelios's option.

Despite his defeat in the vote, Sir Stelios claimed the board had made significant concessions due to his campaign, agreeing to a rethink on the way performance is measured for bonuses.