Sir Stelios picks fresh fight with ex-easyJet boss Harrison

The airline's outspoken founder says he's planning to vote against a £1m pay package for former CEO Andy Harrison.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 10 May 2011
Andy Harrison may have left easyJet, but the airline's former CEO has apparently still not escaped the enmity of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The easyEntrepreneur has chosen to wade back into their long-running row by announcing that he plans to vote against Harrison's exit package: he (Stelios) is objecting to the fact that easyJet plans to pay Harrison £1m for six months’ work last year, without bothering to consult him. Although it’s not the first time Harrison has clashed with the man who remains easyJet’s biggest shareholder – in 2008, an argument erupted over the airline’s brand name and growth strategy - he was presumably hoping that his move to Whitbread might have drawn a line under it all. But apparently not...

The rows between Stelios and the easyJet management during Harrison's tenure were fairly complicated, and this sounds no different. According to reports, Stelios's beef is that Harrison was paid £1m - £750,000 in salary and a £250,000 bonus - for the six months between 1 April and 30 September last year, despite the fact that he'd already quit before the period started, and despite the fact he actually left the company on June 30.

easyJet also, apparently, paid Harrison an extra £1.2m as a 'golden handcuffs' retention bonus until he started his new job in September, for reasons that Sir Stel clearly finds hard to understand. He suggested the board was basically bounced into the deal, and didn't work hard enough to link Harrison's pay to the company's performance - which, he claims, ‘gave the CEO the right to destroy shareholder value in the summer of 2010 with impunity’. Doesn't mince his words, does he? In fact, he's so aggrieved that he's also abstaining from the vote on the re-appointment of interim chairman Sir David Michels.

The good news for Harrison's replacement Carolyn McCall is that her recalcitrant major shareholder seems much better disposed to his new CEO; Stelios said that he would like to ‘favourably acknowledge’ McCall and FD Chris Kennedy’s decisions to forego their bonuses after the company’s profits dropped this summer. So at least he’s on her side. Long may it continue.

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