EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has failed in a bid to remove a number of senior executives, according to reports.
Sir Stelios, whose family owns just over a third of easyJet shares, had called for shareholder votes on the removal of the airline’s chief executive Johan Lundgren, chairman John Barton, chief financial officer Andrew Findlay and a non-executive director.
The attempt to oust the executives stemmed from a dispute over the carrier’s commitment to a deal to buy 107 aircraft from Airbus for £4.5bn.
City A.M reported that Barton had told a virtual shareholder meeting that Haji-Ioannou’s resolutions would be defeated.
“Based on the proxy votes lodged with our registrar before the meeting, we expect all four resolutions put to the meeting to be defeated,” he said.
Sir Stelios had argued that going ahead with the Airbus order would expose the carrier to “significant financial and operational risk”.
Barton had urged shareholders to vote against the resolutions, describing the meeting as “an unnecessary distraction at a time when the airline industry is facing unprecedented challenge”.
He added: “The resolutions to remove the directors are an attempt to force easyJet to terminate its Airbus contract. This is not in the best interests of the company or its shareholders as a whole.
“Having already taken decisive and urgent action to bolster easyJet’s liquidity for a prolonged grounding, the board remains focused on successfully guiding easyJet through this continued period of uncertainty.
“Removing four directors from the board, including the chairman, CEO and CFO, would be extremely damaging and destabilising at this critical time.”
The airline’s contact with Airbus was signed in 2013 and it agreed to defer the delivery of 24 aircraft earlier in April as part of action to ensure easyJet has sufficient liquidity “for a prolonged grounding and to meet its existing obligations”.
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