EasyJet Falls Most in 16 Months After Founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou Resigns

EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-biggest discount airline, fell the most in 16 months in London trading following the resignation of its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

EasyJet dropped 24.7 pence, or 5.9 percent, to 391 pence in London trading, the biggest one-day fall since Jan. 29, 2009. The company has a market value of 1.68 billion pounds ($2.42 billion).

Stelios resigned on May 14 in a bid to force the carrier to curb expansion and focus on returning profit to shareholders. He has been at loggerheads with EasyJet management since November 2008, when he refused to sign off on accounts and rebuked the board for buying planes and adding routes amid a slump in demand for travel. Stelios controls about 38 percent of EasyJet stock.

“We think that Stelios has chosen his moment to intensify his dispute because the company is in management transition,” Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst with Royal Bank of Scotland Plc who has a “hold” rating on the stock, wrote in a note today. “We continue to see significant growth opportunities for EasyJet.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Colm Heatley in Belfast at cheatley@bloomberg.net

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