James Moore: The going is good so who will rock boat on pay?

  • @TheIndyBusiness

Outlook AGM season is upon us, and that means another bust-up over pay at easyJet.

The airline's remuneration report has squeaked through with the support of 55 per cent of shareholders. Leading the dissidents was, of course, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who founded the company and still owns in excess of a third of the shares. Sir Stelios thinks he's paying the current executives too much for running the company. And he's probably right.

EasyJet's shares have been on a tear, hitting a succession of all-time highs, and its executives are going to get rich, even though the company's recent success has been due in no small part to an industrywide recovery.

Rivals such as Ryanair and even International Airlines Group have also been bravura performers. If you take shares owned by Sir Stelios and family out of the equation, the rebellion was a muted one. Sir Stelios has annoyed the City and while some institutions privately agree easyJet's bosses are paid too much, they're so fed up of his interminable battles with them that they won't vote alongside him.

Will they exercise their votes when it comes to other companies that have also enjoyed a recovery in fortunes at least partially as a result of factors quite outside their executives' control? That's an interesting question.

The stock market has performed strongly, share prices are ahead, institutions' funds are looking good. So everyone's happy and they may be disinclined to rock the boat.

Last year's "shareholder spring" made a lot of noise and produced some good headlines, but it didn't actually resolve very much. It may be as good as it gets.