Sanofi faces AGM row over cost of firing and hiring CEOs
* Investor group opposes resolutions that approve payments
* New chief's package also criticised by government
* Sanofi says opposition to both deals a "real error"
By Andrew Callus
PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - Drugs group Sanofi, which sacked its chief executive last year and appointed a new one in February, has appealed for shareholder loyalty as it seeks to head off a potential rebellion over millions of euros in payments to both men.
Investor advisory group ISS has recommended a vote against two resolutions that would approve those payments at the French company's annual general meeting (AGM) on Monday.
In a letter to shareholders on its website, the company said: "If Sanofi is taking the initiative today of contacting you directly, it is because these recommendations do not reflect a simple difference of opinion; they reflect a real error in analysis by ISS."
One of the ISS objections relates to approval of a joining bonus, a giant pension pot and other terms for new CEO Olivier Brandicourt. The second covers non-compete and confidentiality severance payments for his predecessor, Chris Viehbacher.
The former CEO won a total 4.44 million euros ($4.95 million). In exchange, he agreed not to work for a competitor until June, not to recruit Sanofi employees for 18 months and to adhere to a two-year confidentiality agreement. Continued...