EasyJet Founder to Oppose $13 Billion Airbus A320 Deal at Vote
EasyJet Plc (EZJ) founder and No. 1 shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou said he will vote against a management plan to buy 135 Airbus SAS jets valued at $13.2 billion, citing a lack of transparency to the transaction.
“It is my firm opinion that this is a good deal for Airbus and a bad deal for EasyJet shareholders,” Stelios, who is known by his first name, said in a letter to fellow investors in Europe’s second-largest discount carrier.
Shareholders will vote on the transaction July 11, which Stelios said he expects to be approved. The airline’s founder owns just under 37 percent in the company.
EasyJet on June 18 agreed to buy 135 A320 single-aisle planes, with an option for 100 more as it goes head-to-head with network carriers such as British Airways (IAG) by targeting a bigger share of Europe’s lucrative business-travel market. Some 85 of the 135 aircraft will replace old jets, with the remainder helping to boost seat capacity by between 3 and 5 percent annually, the carrier said last month.
“I am not against replacing aircraft that have reached the end of their economic life,” Stelios said. “However, I am against buying aircraft that are three times more expensive than the ones I bought with my own money in the early 2000s.”
EasyJet had no immediate comment.
Stelios, who has previously battled with the airline’s management over expansion plans, said he was “disappointed” that Chairman John Barton, who joined this year, approved a large transaction so quickly. He also expressed concern shareholders were being asked to approve a deal without clear price information for the new planes.
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