PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron and his right-wing extremist challenger in the French presidential referendum, Marine Le Pen, both declared on Friday to “shock” the multi-million euro payment to carmaker Stellantis.
Stellanti’s CEO Carlos Tavares’ € 19.15 million remuneration package just one year after its inception became a problem when Macron and Le Pen campaigned ahead of the vote on April 24. Opinion polls show that purchasing power and inflation are one of voters’ biggest concerns.
Stellantis, formed last year through the merger of PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, on Friday sought to defend Tavares’ work to turn around the French carmaker’s fortunes – and his pay package.
Macron, a centrist who is perceived by many left-wing voters as being pro-business, called the pay package “astronomical” and called for a European effort to set ceilings for “abusive” executive pay.
“It’s shocking, it’s exaggerated,” he told France-Info on Friday.
“People can not have problems with purchasing power, difficulties, the anguish they live with, and see these sums. Otherwise, society will explode. ”
The far-right leader is Marine Le Pen, who enjoys the support of many working-class voterssaid: “Of course it’s shocking, and it’s even more shocking when it’s the CEOs who have pushed their communities into difficulties.”
“One of the ways to reduce this wage, which is often out of proportion to economic life, is perhaps to allow workers as shareholders,” she said Friday on BFM television.
Stellantis continued to back the package despite a vote of 52.1% to 47.9% rejecting it at an annual shareholders’ meeting led by the Netherlands, where the company is legally based, on Wednesday. The company noted, referring to Dutch civil law, that the vote is advisory and not binding.
Stellantis said in a statement that it took note of the vote and will explain in a forthcoming 2022 remuneration report “how this vote has been taken into account.”
In a new statement on Friday, the company outlined Tavares’ work to pull PSA, owner of Peugeot and Citroen, out of “near bankruptcy.”
It said that Stellantis’ success “made it possible to redistribute 1.9 billion euros to employees (+ 70% compared to 2020), ie as much as to shareholders.” It said Tavares’ salary is “lower, for example, than for GM or Ford, and should be considered in light of the size and performance of the company he heads.”
In the 2021 report, the company identified peer group companies that it used as a payroll benchmark, including US companies such as Boeing, Exxon Mobile, General Electric, as well as automakers Ford and General Motors.
Stellantis, whose brands include Peugeot, Fiat, Jeep, Opel and Maserati, reported that last year’s net profit had tripled to 13.4 billion euros ($ 15.2 billion).
The French government is the third largest shareholder in Stellantis with a holding of 6.15% through the French public investment bank Bpifrance Participations SA.
Barry reported from Milan.