Stelios in blistering attack on easyJet's 'Putin-like' actions

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The Independent Online

EasyJet's founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, last night renewed his attack on the airline's board, claiming it was trying to find a legal loophole to block him from voting at tomorrow's annual meeting.

He declared his treatment was "beginning to feel like one of Putin's elections in Russia".

Sir Stelios has been locked in a long and bitter battle with the company in which he and his family remain 37.4 per cent shareholders. He is planning to vote against several AGM resolutions including those concerning re-election of chairman Mike Rake and directors' pay. Some require a 75 per cent vote in favour to pass, giving him the effective power of veto.

The Stock Exchange's Regulatory News Service refused to transmit his statement.

He accused easyJet's lawyers, Herbert Smith, of making "frivolous and vexatious demands" for confidential details about how he and his siblings decide to vote. EasyJet's board had been "wasting shareholders' money asking Herbert Smith to ask me how often I phone my sister", his statement said. Sir Stelios owns just over a quarter of the company, his brother Polys 11.1 per cent and his sister Clelia less than 1 per cent.

EasyJet said it issued him, along with other big shareholders, a standard Section 793 notice to identify its shareholders. But Sir Stelios's camp said the 793 form was then followed by a blizzard of further intrusive requests.

He also accused 5 per centshareholder Standard Life of having a conflict of interest because it runs the lucrative contract of managing the pension fund of Airbus, easyJet's sole aeroplanes supplier.

Standard Life declined tocomment.