SIR STELIOS Haji-Ioannou, the major shareholder in budget airline easyJet, is exploring the possibility of legal action in an attempt to recoup the £1 million retention bonus paid to Andy Harrison, the airline’s former CEO. The move follows the group’s annual meeting in February when shareholders led by the entrepreneur voted against the airline’s payments to top executives last year.
In early February he said that he believed the brand wars allowed Harrison to gain an advantage in pay negotiations. “This problem emerged as a result of an agreement between Mr Harrison and the then Interim Chairman, Sir David Michels, in the latter part of 2009. At that time, I was still a director of the company and, as such, unable to comment publicly on these matters. I was not consulted on this package, either as a director or as a shareholder, as is customary with major shareholders. Tension created by Mr Harrison regarding the brand dispute, and his insistence on litigation rather than early settlement, gave him the upper hand when negotiating the extraction of more cash from the company in the form of this retention bonus. The fact that he knew he would not be around to face the judgement from the trial constituted a true ‘moral hazard’.” (Photo Key Collection)