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What to Watch: EasyJet finance chief to leave, stocks rise, new Aston Martin chief

·Finance and policy reporter
·3-min read
A large number of easyJet aircrafts are parked on the tarmac of the Geneve Aeroport, in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, March 30, 2020. EasyJet, a British low-cost airline, on 30 March 2020 said it is ground its entire fleet of more than 300 planes amid ongoing Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
EasyJet's finance chief is set to leave. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world:

EasyJet finance chief to leave after battle with founder

EasyJet’s (EZJ.L) finance director Andrew Findlay has announced he will leave the budget airline next year, less than a week after its founder tried to remove him.

The leading UK airline has been embroiled in a bitter row between its board and its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou over a deal to buy planes from Airbus. The founder, also its biggest shareholder, sought to remove the company’s finance officer, chief executive, chair and a non-executive director at its general meeting last week.

The founder’s resolutions were voted down by virtually all the other shareholders, but Findlay announced on Tuesday he had given notice for a year’s time.

“It will be the right time to pass the financial reins to someone who will help take easyJet into its next chapter,” said Findlay in a statement released through the company.

EasyJet shares soared more than 15% on Tuesday, with travel stocks surging on loosening lockdowns in Europe.

Stocks rise as shops in England set to reopen and European lockdowns ease

Stocks rose in Britain’s biggest listed companies on Tuesday, after prime minister Boris Johnson announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions on shops in England.

The FTSE 100 index (^FTSE) rebounded in early trading after the bank holiday weekend, trading 1.8% higher than when markets closed on Friday. The FTSE 250 (^FTMC) was up 2.4%.

France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was up 1.2% and Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was up 0.8% on Monday’s close. The pan-European Eurostoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) was up 1%. Travel, leisure, car and banking stocks were among those rising fastest on Tuesday.

The German government was reported on Tuesday to be planning to lift a current travel warning for other European states from 15 June, and ease certain social distancing rules earlier than planned. Meanwhile bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating in Spain opened their doors on Monday.

Asian stocks had also jumped overnight after Japan ended its state of emergency and China’s central bank indicated it would loosen interest rates.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index (^N225) hit a 10-week high, up 2.6%, while China’s Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) rose 1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (^HSI) rose 2% despite mounting political unrest.

Aston Martin chief to leave as Mercedes CEO steps in

The board of struggling Aston Martin (AML.L) has confirmed the exit of chief executive Andy Palmer, following a dreadful run for the luxury carmaker on the public markets.

Aston Martin said in a statement on Tuesday that Palmer had agreed to step down as president and group chief executive after discussions with the board.

Mercedes-AMG chief executive Tobias Moers will replace him, taking up the role on 1 August. Aston Martin’s manufacturing chief Keith Stanton and executive chairman Lawrence Stroll will take charge of operations in the meantime.

News that Aston Martin was considering getting rid of Palmer first broke over the weekend. Palmer told the press he was not aware of these plans.

Palmer has run James Bond’s car maker since 2014 but has struggled since the company went public in 2018. Shares have fallen over 90% since listing and the company made a loss of £100m ($123m) last year. The company was forced to raise £500m in a rescue deal in January. Shares in Aston Martin jumped over 30% on confirmation of Moers’ appointment.

What to expect in the US

US stocks looked set to rise too, after markets were shut on Monday for memorial day. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were trading 1.8% higher, and Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were up 2% at around 4.30am eastern time in the US.

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