easyJet carries out rights issue, founder’s stake drops
easyJet successfully carried out a rights issue on September 28, 2021, to raise money to see it through the recovery from the pandemic. The family of the airline’s founder did not take part, however.
The budget airline was aiming to raise £1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) in the sale of new shares, according to a previous announcement on September 9, 2021.
The airline’s chief executive described the capital increase as a “success”, saying it would allow the airline to accelerate its post-pandemic recovery plan.
“Importantly, it will position us to take advantage of strategic investment opportunities across our markets which will arise as we move into this period of recovery from the pandemic,” Johan Lundgren said in a statement on September 28, 2021.
Of the shares offered in the sale, 93% were taken up. The banks organizing the sale will now seek to find investors for the remaining new shares.
The family of Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who started the airline in 1995 when he was 28, did not take part in the rights issue, meaning their stake will fall to around 15% from 25% previously. Relations between the airline and its founder became strained in 2020 when Haji-Ioannou sought to remove management in a row over 107 A320neo orders.
easyJet had announced the fundraising plans at the same time as revealing that it had rejected a takeover approach from an unnamed suitor, which various media reported as being from eastern European rival Wizz.
The British airline hopes the funds will give it the chance to seize opportunities ahead of rivals with higher cost bases, such as by acquiring airport take-off and landing slots.
“easyJet has been disciplined and decisive in maintaining a strong balance sheet, managing our fleet and network while looking after our customers,” Lundgren added. “This will allow us to emerge from the pandemic with renewed strength, positioned as a structural winner in this rapidly evolving sector.”
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