April 3, 2017 / 2:11 AM / 2 years ago

Bombardier CEO requests board to defer half of planned 2016 executive pay amid backlash

CEO Bombardier Inc. Alain Bellemare speaks during a ceremony to announce Bombardier's delivery of the first CS300 aircraft to Air Baltic Corporation AS (airBaltic) in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) Chief Executive Alain Bellemare requested the board defer the payment of more than half of the total planned 2016 compensation for its six named executive officers until 2020, amid public outcry over pay rises.

The Canadian plane and train maker said in statement on Sunday that the deferred compensation will only be payable if the company achieves performance goals that position it for long term success.

The statement by the CEO comes two days after executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin requested the board reverse his pay to its 2015 level as the rise in pay had “become a distraction” from the company’s regular work.

The company has faced a backlash over its executives’ pay rises, which come after Bombardier announced two rounds of layoffs in 2016 totaling 14,500 people over two years at sites around the world.

Bombardier was forced to consider bankruptcy in 2015 after facing a cash crunch while developing two new planes. Since then, the Canadian government in February announced C$372.5 million ($283 million) in repayable loans for two of Bombardier’s jet programs.

Total compensation for the company’s top five executives and board chairman rose to $32.7 million in 2016, up from $21.9 million a year earlier, according to a proxy circular published last week ahead of Bombardier’s May 11 annual meeting.

Earlier on Sunday, a protest against the pay raises was held outside Bombardier’s downtown Montreal headquarters. 

The statement from Bellemare also comes after Quebec's main opposition party planned to introduce a motion on Tuesday demanding Bombardier senior executives renounce their 2016 pay raises, according to a tweet by a party spokeswoman on Saturday. (bit.ly/2nusZvH)

Shareholders will be able to vote at Bombardier’s annual meeting on the company’s structure for awarding compensation, Bombardier spokesman Simon Letendre said via email.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal

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