Stelios ups pressure on EasyJet board ahead of AGM

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EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has written to investors reiterating his opposition to the expansion strategy pursued by chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Stelios, who quit the board of EasyJet in May 2010, said he will vote against the re-election of Chairman Mike Rake at the company's upcoming annual general meeting (AGM).

Rake had already announced his decision to step down next summer ahead of EasyJet's expected admission to the FTSE 100, prompting Stelios to allege that he has "no long-term accountability for his actions".

The EasyJet chairman also serves as deputy chairman of Barclays and chairman of BT, necessitating his departure from the airline to avoid breaching FTSE index regulations.

"Rake is too busy anyway to do justice to all these jobs," Stelios writes. "I have no favourites in who the next chairman would be. I just want someone who hates Airbus and hates taking large gambles with our money."

Stelios also opposes the pay increases that senior management have awarded themselves at EasyJet, calling McCall's and CFO Chris Kennedy's salaries "unjustifiable".

The Greek Cypriot tycoon has been at loggerheads with EasyJet for years, opposing its fleet expansion strategy and threatening to sell his family's 36% holding if new aircraft are purchased.

Stelios argues that airfares will fail to keep pace with cost increases if the airline introduces excess capacity. He is calling instead for higher dividends to return earnings to shareholders.

EasyJet dismissed the latest statement by Stelios, saying: "Our institutional shareholders have strongly supported the board at recent general meetings and we are confident that they will continue to do so."