Chairman of British no-frills airline easyJet to step down

LONDON (AFP) - British no-frills airline easyJet announced on Sunday that its chairman Mike Rake is to step down this year, following a long battle with the company's founder and largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

"Sir Mike Rake has informed the board of his intention to step down as a non-executive director and as chairman of easyJet in summer 2013," the airline said in a statement.

It added that Mr Rake, who has been easyJet chairman since January 2010, has agreed to remain in the post until a suitable replacement is found.

Mr Haji-Ioannou had made several attempts to oust the chairman following disputes over executive bonuses and plans to order new planes.

The airline, which on Thursday announced a 9 per cent boost in revenues in the last quarter, is poised to enter the FTSE 100 share index of Britain's largest 100 companies.

"EasyJet has by any definition enjoyed a period of success and profitable growth in the last three years," said Mr Rake. "As this takes the airline to the threshold of entry to the FTSE 100, it is the right time for me to stand down."

Mr Rake is also chairman of British telecoms giant BT, and his departure means he avoids a breach of guidelines stating that no one should lead more than one FTSE 100 company at once.

Mr Haji-Ioannou, who founded easyJet in 1995, has had several high-profile rows with executives in recent years over the running of the company.

Last year, he was defeated in his attempt to throw out a multimillion-pound pay deal for executives, while another dispute has developed over a large plane order which will require shareholder approval.

He tried to oust Mr Rake in August, arguing that his role as deputy chairman of Barclays bank meant he was too busy to devote enough attention to easyJet, but 96 per cent of shareholders backed the chairman.

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