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EasyJet Investors Re-Elect Chairman in Snub of Stelios

EasyJet Plc shareholders re-elected Chairman Mike Rake and approved Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall’s 1.99 million-pound ($3 million) 2012 pay package, overruling objections from founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Just under 56 percent of shareholders voted to retain Rake, who plans to step down in mid-2013 once a replacement is appointed, the Luton, England-based company said in a statement today. Directors’ remuneration for the year was approved by a margin of 11 percentage points, EasyJet said.

McCall and her team have taken advantage of “flexibility” offered by a decision in 2002 to shift the fleet to Airbus SAS A320 aircraft, including turning 15 options for the plane into firm orders in January 2011, Rake said in the statement. The decisions “have contributed to the strong performance of the company.”

Stelios, who goes by his first name, has questioned Rake’s re-appointment, arguing that the chairman lacked the accountability to make long-term decisions because of his plan to step down. The entrepreneur has conducted a four-year campaign against EasyJet’s growth strategy, arguing that the airline should focus more on boosting profit margins and dividends and opposing the move to A320s, which he says represent poor value versus the Boeing Co. 737s originally in the fleet.

EasyJet fell as much as 2 percent to 995 pence and was trading down 1.8 percent at 2:06 p.m. in London. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 30 percent, valuing the airline at 3.95 billion pounds.

The carrier said in January that it’s evaluating new aircraft and may exercise options to buy three A320s to ensure it has capacity for summer 2014. Newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft will improve cost advantages over competitors and help retain better positions at airports, the carrier has said.

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