Majority of Swiss back "fat cat" pay curbs - poll

Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:50am EST

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* Swiss to vote on executive pay plan on March 3

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ZURICH Jan 13 (Reuters) - The majority of Swiss voters support a plan to impose some of the tightest limits in the world on "fat cat" pay, a poll published on Sunday showed.

The poll, conducted by Isopublic for the Sonntags-Blick newspaper from Thursday to Saturday, showed that 54 percent of the 1,019 people surveyed back the plan, while 30 percent are opposed and 16 percent are still undecided.

Swiss citizens will vote in a referendum on March 3 to decide whether to give shareholders a binding vote on executive pay and ban practices like "golden handshakes" - or big payouts - for new hires and "golden parachutes" for departing managers.

The plan is the brainchild of small businessman-turned-politician Thomas Minder, who launched his drive for reform in 2008 after huge losses at Swiss bank UBS were blamed on a bonus culture that drove managers to take too many risks.

Powerful business lobby Economiesuisse has launched a huge public campaign against the Minder's plan, arguing it risks making Switzerland a less attractive home for big firms and could scare away international talent.

A survey commissioned by Economiesuisse published on Friday showed that the plan would make Switzerland the only country to give shareholders a binding say on pay, while planned sanctions and fines for executives would also be unique worldwide.

The Swiss government and Economiesuisse want more limited measures to increase shareholder control over executive pay which have already been adopted by parliament and will come into force if the plan being put to referendum is rejected.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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