EasyJet claims backing in board pay row

EasyJet said yesterday that the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the shareholder advisory group ISS Proxy Services was in its corner over the executive pay spat that has arisen between the budget airline's board and its biggest shareholder.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyJet's founder, who retains a 38 per cent stake, is opposed to a pay deal that could award 10 airline executives shares worth £8m over the next three years. He has secured the backing of the US shareholder adviser Glass Lewis, but the ABI and ISS have backed the board.

Sir Mike Rake, chairman of easyJet, said: "The majority of easyJet's institutional shareholders are guided by these influential bodies." Institutional investors make up about 60 per cent of easyJet's share register, and the pay deal will be put to a vote at the airline's AGM on 23 February.

Sir Mike pointed out that Glass Lewis, as well as the ABI and ISS, had advised backing for the re-election of easyJet's directors, "continuing to demonstrate the strong support easyJet's board has from its institutional shareholders".

Sir Stelios has claimed that easyJet board members use the carrier as "a personal piggy bank to be dipped into at will", and should resign.