Via Yahoo Finance

EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is offering £5m to any “whistleblower” providing him with information that scuppers the budget airline’s 107-plane order from Airbus.

Haji-Ioannou, who has been attempting to force easyJet’s board to cancel the order for months, says the £4.5bn deal will leave the carrier without enough cash to survive the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter, the entrepreneur, who owns a third of the airline, said: “EasyJet is currently run by certain directors that I can only regard as ‘scoundrels’. That remains my honest opinion.

“The scoundrels want to maintain the Airbus contract despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence that this obligation to pay Airbus will drive easyJet into insolvency by December 2020.”

He added that he is “willing to offer a reward of up to £5m in cash out of his own money to any whistleblower who provides useful information”.

Haji-Ioannou has repeatedly lobbied for easyJet to cancel its order for new planes, with coronavirus lockdowns likely to wipe out months of revenues.

He has called a shareholder meeting to remove four of easyJet’s directors – chairman John Barton, chief executive Johan Lundgren, finance director Andrew Findlay, and independent non-executive director Andreas Bierwirth – if the airline does not cancel the orders.

An extraordinary general meeting has been set for 22 May, at which shareholders will vote on his proposals.

On Tuesday, easyJet hit back and said that major advisory agencies ISS, Glass Lewis and Pirc had all told shareholders to vote against Haji-Ioannou’s proposals.

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Last week, shareholders Invesco, Phoenix Asset Management, and Ninety One, which together own about 15% of the airline, said they would vote against the measures.

An easyJet spokeswoman said: “As we have previously stated, the board firmly rejects any insinuation that easyJet was involved in any impropriety.

“EasyJet has maintained the highest standards of governance and scrutiny in respect of its aircraft procurement processes.

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“Given the significance of the potential transaction, easyJet appointed external independent accountants BDO to carry out an ongoing review of the controls surrounding the fleet selection process which culminated in the 2013 Airbus contract.

“The audit report confirmed that robust procurement, project management and governance processes were in place and had been followed.”

Last month, easyJet agreed with Airbus to delay the delivery of 24 new aircraft as the airline tried to stave off a shareholder rebellion, while it also secured a £600m loan from the Treasury and Bank of England’s emergency coronavirus fund.

Haji-Ioannou and his family are the airline’s largest shareholder, with 34% of shares. His resolutions will need 50% of shareholders’ votes to pass.

In March, the family received a near £60m share of £171m paid in dividends. The tycoon has said he will not inject any fresh equity in easyJet “whilst the Airbus liability is in place”.