James Moore: Expect some hard talkat easyJet's meeting

  • @TheIndyBusiness

Outlook: Passengers of a nervous disposition might be best avoiding Luton Airport next week. There are likely to a series of explosions in Hanger 89.

This happens to be the location of easyJet's annual meeting. Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has his guns trained on the board, thanks to their plans to award the chief executive, Carolyn McCall, and colleagues bonuses which could make them £8m or more.

Sir Stelios, with 38 per cent of the shares, says they aren't worth it, and wants to vote down the remuneration report.

The City begs to differ. Standard Life, M&G and Sanderson plan to vote in favour, to the evident fury of Sir Stelios.

There's a feeling here of the City closing ranks: "Can't have that bally Cypriot chappy making a lot of fuss. Let's see him off."

Time for a ruling from Pirc, which advises a large number of pension funds on how they should vote and is more often than not right. It agrees that the remuneration arrangements are a bit rich, offering Ms McCall and chums too much reward for simply staying put.

But this comes with a caveat: Pirc says its recommendation to vote against the remuneration report should not be seen as a (negative) comment on the board.

This is not its usual practice but, given the deterioration in easyJet's relations with Sir Stelios, its caution is understandable.

It takes two to make a fight, and easyJet's directors should have done more to try to calm this in-flight turbulence. It doesn't help that the chairman, Sir Michael Rake, appears to have his hands full with some rather challenging commitments. As if being chairman of BT wasn't enough, he is also the senior independent director at Barclays. Any one of those is a handful by itself.

That said, Sir Stelios does give the impression that what really makes him cross is that he has had to give up control of his baby. Really, he should bring this bumpy flight to an end by tabling a bid.

He is right about easyJet's pay, and he'd arguably be right to vote against Sir Michael's re-election. But for the wrong reasons.