It’s every entrepreneur’s fear. You create a multi-million pound firm, bring on new directors, take the company public, and suddenly, out of nowhere, you feel control slipping away.
Luckily for Stelios, the wily entrepreneur had a joker up his sleeve.
The Easy Holdings tycoon had a caveat written into his contract reserving the right to re-appoint himself as chairman should the need arise. From this position, he could then fill the board with his own representatives and drive out dissenting directors. So, when a dispute about the future of EasyJet arose last year, Stelios called their bluff.
The argument centred around aggressive growth plans for the firm: despite the recession and the decline of the aviation industry, the EasyJet board had planned to order 91 new Airbus aircraft for the EasyJet fleet.
Stelios believed that this move was ill-conceived given the state of the industry and blocked the move.
The entrepreneur has got his way. The budget carrier has just announced that a compromise has been reached whereby growth will be limited to between five and ten per cent this year. As part of this deal, EasyJet will exchange a number of the new aircraft for the older planes acquired by EasyJet when it bought GB Airways last year. The delivery date for further new aircraft ordered over the past 18 months has also been delayed.
Additionally, Stelios’ fears about the aviation industry have already been vindicated as Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary announces huge profit decreases for the rival budget airline, down some €100m.
Stelios and his family are the largest shareholders in EasyJet, retaining 38 per cent of the airline. Relations with the firm have been much improved since the departure of chairman Colin Chandler in July this year. It is understood that Stelios is no longer pushing to appoint his own representatives to the board.
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