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Saturday 12 July 2014

Chairman of easyJet to step down as firm on brink of FTSE 100 Index

Graeme Evans

Published 27/01/2013|11:51

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File photo dated 21/04/10 of a plane of the budget airline easyJet, as the low cost airline easyJet said it expects lower half-year losses after a strong start to the ski season and record numbers of business travellers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 24, 2013. The Luton-based carrier last month achieved the milestone of flying 10 million business passengers over the past year and hopes this will increase further after completing the roll-out of seat allocation. See PA story CITY easyJet. Photo credit should read: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

THE chairman of easyJet is to step down this summer after guiding the airline to the brink of the FTSE 100 Index.

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As Mike Rake is also chairman of BT, his departure will avoid a breach of guidelines that no-one should lead more than one FTSE 100 company at a time.

His exit takes the City veteran out of the firing line after a bruising battle with the airline's founder and largest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, over executive bonuses and plans to order new planes.

The tycoon has made a number of attempts to oust Rake, who has been chairman since January 2010. He will step down in the summer but in order to allow the company time to find a replacement the former chairman of KPMG International will stand for board re-election next month.

Rake said: "In advance of the forthcoming AGM I wanted to make my position clear. easyJet has by any definition enjoyed a period of success and profitable growth in the last three years.

"As this takes the airline to the threshold of entry to the FTSE 100 it is the right time for me to stand down."

The airline is currently the 88th biggest public company in UK and with a market capitalisation of £3.7bn is on track to enter the ranks of blue-chip firms when the next reshuffle takes place in March.

Its shares are currently at an all-time high and have surged 22% this year after the airline posted better-than-expected results last week.

Deputy chairman Charles Gurassa said: "All our stakeholders, passengers, shareholders and employees have benefited from the excellent performance of easyJet under his chairmanship."

Haji-Ioannou founded easyJet in 1995 and resigned as chairman 10 years ago, although he remained as a director until 2010.

Last year he was defeated in his attempt to throw out a multimillion-pound pay deal for executives. More than 97% of easyJet investors, excluding the 37% stake owned by Sir Stelios and his family, voted to pass the airline's remuneration deal.

However, another row is brewing over a large plane order, which will require shareholder approval.

Haji-Ioannou said last week: "I will be a loyal shareholder for the long term provided management doesn't squander any more of our cash on new aircraft for at least the next 4-5 years."



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