Renault board maintains CEO pay deal despite shareholder revolt

Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:11pm EDT
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By Laurence Frost

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault stuck by its decision to pay Carlos Ghosn 7.2 million euros ($8.2 million) for 2015, defying a shareholder vote against the chief executive's package on Friday.

Investors representing 54 percent of voting rights opposed Ghosn's pay deal at their annual meeting. The French state proved decisive in the non-binding vote, a year after increasing its stake in the carmaker.

In a hastily convened session afterwards, the Renault board endorsed Ghosn's payout, including 1.23 million euros in fixed salary, 1.78 million in variable pay and a further 4.18 million in deferred bonuses and stock.

"The board once again acknowledges the quality of 2015 results," Renault said in a statement. However, it added the remunerations committee had been asked to review pay structures for 2016 and beyond.

Executive pay levels are attracting renewed scrutiny at companies from HSBC to BP, where shareholders have forced a review of compensation policies. France's Socialist government, under pressure over its labor reform proposals amid soaring unemployment, has also stepped up criticism of CEO payouts.

In past years, Ghosn, who also heads Japanese alliance partner Nissan, has drawn regular criticism from the French state over his pay. His additional Nissan salary for the last fiscal year will be announced in June.

The government commands more than 18 percent of voting rights in Renault, or about a quarter of votes cast at the meeting. Ghosn's payout was backed by more than 60 percent of the other shareholders represented.

Finance ministry officials confirmed that the state had voted against Ghosn's package.   Continued...

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, attends a round table discussion during Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon