March 27, 2009 / 2:04 PM / in 9 years

New Quebec fund boss forgoes pension, bonus

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The new chief executive of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, Canada’s largest pension fund, will renounce his right to a pension and some of his bonuses, the fund said on Friday.

Michael Sabia -- a former chief executive of BCE Inc -- was appointed this month to revive the Quebec pension fund manager, which posted a record loss last year.

The appointment proved controversial, both because of the speed with which Sabia was named to the job and the fact that he does not come from the predominantly French-speaking province.

In a letter to Caisse Chairman Robert Tessier, Sabia rejected his right to a C$235,000 ($190,000) annual pension if he completed his five-year term.

He will also forgo his bonuses for 2009 and 2010 and said he would not accept any compensation if he left the job early, regardless of the reason.

The Caisse provided a copy of the letter to Reuters.

“Since the very first interview we had with him, he made it clear that his motivations for coming to the Caisse were not linked to money,” Tessier told La Presse newspaper.

Sabia’s move comes amid increasing investor and public unhappiness about high levels of executive pay, while high-profile banks and insurers in the United States and Europe are getting billions in government bailouts.

Despite their comparatively good financial health, Canadian banks recently announced their chief executives would take smaller compensation packages this year. Some have given back bonuses or requested that some of their pay go to charity.

The Caisse is an arm’s length agency that manages investments for public and private pension plans in Quebec.

Last month it reported a 2008 loss of C$39.8 billion -- a quarter of its overall holdings -- and blamed the meltdown in global financial markets. Critics said it had made too many risky investments.

($1=$1.24 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson

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