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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Easyjet chairman resigns
Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Stelios Haji-Ioannou said he would step down next year
Entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou is to step down as chairman of budget airline Easyjet.

The high-profile businessman set up the company in 1995, and it was floated on the stock market five years later.

Starting a company requires a very different skills set to those needed to chair a major PLC

Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Mr Haji-Ioannou will remain as chairman of other companies in the Easy empire, including the Easyeverything internet cafe chain and Easyrentacar.

He will be replaced by Sir Colin Chandler, the chairman of Vickers Defence Systems

Shareholder pressure

Mr Haji-Ioannou said he would step down in 2003.

He added that he would retain a significant stake in Easyjet "for a very long time" but said his strengths lay in setting up businesses rather than being the chairman of a public company.

EasyJet plane
EasyJet was floated on the stock market in 2000

"Starting a company requires a very different skills set to those needed to chair a major PLC and I consider my strengths are in the former," he said.

"I am a serial entrepreneur."

His move follows pressure from major shareholders, who generally prefer chairmen to be less intimately involved with a company.

Mr Haji-Ioannou himself said the City was littered with company founders who held on to their creations for too long.

City reaction

The no-frills airline recently reported a sharp increase in passenger numbers, up 39% on the same period one year ago.

Along with other budget carriers, Easyjet has escaped the worst of the international slump in the aviation industry following the 11 September attacks in the US.

Easyjet shares fell 24p to 500p on Thursday morning, before recovering to stand at 508p, down 16p, by 0900 GMT.

The BBC's Vicki Broadbent
"Stelios, as he likes to be known, has always treated business as a hobby."
See also:

18 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet's flamboyant flyer
08 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet passenger numbers soar
07 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet mulls big-screen venture
15 Nov 00 | Business
Easy approach to a jetset day
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