easyJet issued the following statement at close of play on Friday in response to a number of press reports: We have received the following letter from our major shareholder. We welcome the statement of clarification and of support.
From: Stelios Haji-Ioannou
9th of July, 2004 1740h
Recent reports in the press have claimed that I am considering (even “seriously” considering, according to one Italian paper) taking easyJet private, and I wish to clarify the position on this issue.
While taking easyJet private is “a possible option, but no decision has been made yet”, as my office confirmed to a journalist a few days ago, frankly the media have read too much into this.
easyGroup and members of my family hold about 41% of the shares in easyJet. The easyJet share price has fallen substantially in recent months, for various reasons, as have other airline stocks. Like any large shareholder in any company we are very keen to protect our investments, and we keep our investment in easyJet under review. All sensible options are considered from time to time.
Taking easyJet private at this stage would, in my view, be something of an extreme measure. There are many other steps which could be considered before going private. For example I still have the contractual right to be Chairman of the Board of easyJet, a position I voluntarily stepped down from a couple of years ago and something I would only reclaim in extreme circumstances. Therefore, contrary to some press reports, it is not a job that I am after, it is about protecting shareholder value. My current view is clear having discussed it with both the Chairman and the Chief Executive of easyJet. I wish to work with and support the Board and senior management in order to protect and improve shareholder value and I believe the Board will be taking measures to achieve those ends. There is no current plan on the part of easyGroup and my family to take the Company private.
While we will continue to support the Board at this time, if there were a further deterioration in the share price, deviations from what we understand to be the Board’s plans to improve shareholder value or other material changes in circumstances, we would obviously be free to take a different line.