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Founder Stelios loses his bid to oust Easyjet bosses

Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou suffers defeat after not expelling four of the airline’s directors

Easyjet’s outspoken founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, suffered a blue defeat after failing to oust four of the airline’s directors.

He accused the airline of “voting fraud” after losing a shareholder vote to bosses, including CEO Johan Lundgren and chairman John Barton.

Nearly 60 percent of the shareholders were against his proposals, including the resignation of Financial Director Andrew Findlay and Non-Executive Director Andreas Bierwirth.

In one fell swoop: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou accused the airline of 'voting fraud' after losing a shareholder vote to fire bosses

In one fell swoop: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou accused the airline of ‘voting fraud’ after losing a shareholder vote to fire bosses

The Greek-born entrepreneur convened the meeting to protest the council’s refusal to cancel a £ 4.5 billion deal for 107 planes on Airbus.

He believes the order will bankrupt the company because of the coronavirus crisis – and has waged war with management over the past two months, promising to elect directors.

Last week, he even offered a premium of up to £ 5 million to anyone who could prove the contract could be canceled.

After his loss, he said the results are “voting fraud,” because at least 15 percent of the shares were held by three “straw men” organizations.

Stelios claimed that these three investors, including Invesco and Phoenix, are ‘controlled’ by Airbus and should not have been counted.

During the meeting, Stelios asked the board whether shares were indeed managed by Airbus.

Barton said he did not believe any of them and that he had not asked Airbus – an answer Stelios labeled “pathetic.”

Stelios said, “Ask the damn question, Mr. Barton, and get a damn answer from Airbus. Yes or no.’

Stelios went even further, accusing Findlay and former Easyjet directors, now ITV CEO Carolyn McCall and Stobart Group boss Warwick Brady, of a secret dinner in 2016 with a lawyer in Switzerland who he says is affiliated with Airbus.

Easyjet later said the charges were “simply not true.”

Stelios promised to sue management if Easyjet goes bankrupt later this year.

He founded the airline in 1995, and he and his family still own 34 percent of the stock.

To survive the crisis, Easyjet grounded its entire fleet of 344 aircraft and applied for a £ 600 million loan from the government.

The budget airline plans to restart flights in the UK and France next month.