A boardroom battle is threatening to ignite at budget airline pioneer easyJet. Founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is attempting to wrestle back control of the firm he floated in 2000 after a strategy disagreement with the current board. He wants to appoint two non-executive directors to the board as allies, but a legal wrangle means it is not known if he has the power to do so without becoming chairman - a position he claims he does not want to take from Sir Colin Chandler. The row broke out because Stelios wants the airline to cut back growth plans.
The financial press lapped up the 'battle in the boardroom' theme, with the story receiving daily coverage on the business pages of The Times, Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. Meanwhile Sir Colin released a statement saying the board was surprised by Stelios' actions and the board wanted him to provide some 'context'. Stelios clarified his position in the press, saying: 'I have no desire to be the chairman of any plc.'
WHO ARE THE PR PLAYERS?
Toby Nichol leads an in-house team of seven to cover the UK and Europe. The airline has used FD used for financial PR since 2003 and this month appointed Beattie Comms as its first consumer PR firm.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
If it transpires that Stelios can only install non-executive directors if he is the chairman (a position he can take under the 2000 agreement) he will have to go along with the current board's strategy or seize back control himself. His actions have infuriated the board and share price has reacted negatively - after reporting difficult financial results the company will be desperate to avoid the row being dragged out through the media.
45% - Amount the airline said its pre-tax profits fell this week.