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easyJet founder threatens to sell family stake

easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has warned directors he will sell his 37 per cent family stake in the airline if they enforce plans to buy new aircraft, according to reports.

easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has warned directors he will sell his 37 per cent family stake in the airline if they enforce plans to buy new aircraft, according to reports.

He voiced his concern over the company's expansion plans in an open letter published on Monday, accusing directors of "squandering" cash on new planes.

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In protest, he threatened to sell his holdings in the company. Last week he disclosed that he had sold 200,000 shares in the low-cost airline while his brother and sister sold the same amount.

This brought their combined interest back to 37%, an investment of almost £1.3bn.

"This token disposal of shares sends a clear message to our directors," he wrote.

"If the board places another order for aircraft, it will destroy shareholder value into the future. If they place such an order now I will be looking to dispose of more of my stake before this happens.

"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 four to five years."

easyJet is considering purchasing more fleet to replace aircraft and expand its business in Europe. However, the company is yet to decide on how many to buy.

Haji-Ioannou said the order would hinder the company's financial success.

He has been leading a campaign since 2008 for the airline to focus on "shareholder value and less on top line growth", to free up cash for dividend payments and restrict capacity growth.

The founder claims profits are rising only because easyJet is charging customers more than they did four years ago to fly.

Shares fell 1.95% to 855.00p at 16:06 Monday.

The airline did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his letter.

RD

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