Not without my chauffeur-SocGen ex-boss keeps perk

Tue May 19, 2009 3:04pm EDT
 
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PARIS (Reuters) - Daniel Bouton, the former head of Societe Generale who was forced out after constant public criticism over the French bank's record trading losses, will be allowed to have a chauffeur for one more year.

As the global financial crisis gathered pace last year, Bouton, a cigar smoker who was appointed SocGen's chairman and chief executive in 1997, became a symbol in the media of France's wealthy banking establishment.

He has been criticized for benefits such as stock options awarded to executives, and has also come under fire for his own generous pension package, worth hundreds of thousands of euros a year.

"He will be allowed to have a chauffeur and private secretary for one more year," new SocGen head Frederic Oudea told the bank's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday.

Although top directors are often allowed to hold onto some perks after they leave a company, the financial crisis has meant that members of the public have expressed anger at lucrative packages for executives considered to have mismanaged firms.

Bouton was not present at the meeting, but the mere mention of his name led to regular bouts of booing from shareholders.

Bouton was head of SocGen in January 2008, when the bank revealed losses of 4.9 billion euros ($6.7 billion), which it blamed on unauthorized trades conducted by Jerome Kerviel, a former junior trader at the bank.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy led calls to remove him, and Bouton came under renewed pressure earlier this year when SocGen was forced to abandon plans to hand out stock options to its top directors following a public outcry.

($1=.7337 Euro)

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)