Monday, December 05, 2022

Macron, Le Pen call Stelantis CEO ‘shocking’

PARIS ( Associated Press) – French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger in the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen, both on Friday described the hundreds of millions of euros paid to the CEO of carmaker Stellantis as “shocking”.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares’ 19.15 million euro remuneration package just a year after the company was formed became an issue as Macron and Le Pen campaigned ahead of the April 24 runoff vote. Polls show purchasing power and inflation are a top voter concern.

Stelantis was formed last year through the merger of PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron, considered pro-business by many voters, called the pay package “astronomical” and prompted a Europe-wide effort to set a ceiling on “outrageous” executive pay.

“It’s shocking, it’s excessive,” he said on broadcaster France-Info on Friday.

“People may have no problem seeing the purchasing power, the hardships, the suffering they are living with, and these sums of money. Otherwise society will explode.”

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has the support of many working class voters, called for more workers to be brought in as shareholders.

“Of course it’s shocking, and it’s even more shocking when it’s CEOs who put their society in trouble,” she said Friday on BFM television.

“One of the ways to reduce this wage, which is often out of proportion to economic life, is probably to allow workers as shareholders.”

Stellantis continued to support the package, despite a 52.1% to 47.9% vote rejecting it at the annual shareholders meeting chaired by the Netherlands on Wednesday, where the company is legally based. The company said the vote is advisory and not binding, citing the Dutch Civil Code.

The company later said in a statement that it took note of the vote, and would explain “how this vote has been taken into account” in an upcoming 2022 remuneration report.

In its 2021 report, the company identified the peer group companies it used as salary benchmarks, including Boeing, Exxon Mobile, General Electric, as well as US companies such as carmakers Ford and General Motors.

Stelantis, whose brands include Peugeot, Fiat, Jeep, Opel and Maserati, reported that net profit had tripled last year to 13.4 billion euros ($15.2 billion).

The French government is the third largest shareholder in Stellantis, with a 6.15% stake through BPIFrance Participation SA, a French public investment bank.

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