UPDATE 1-Salary row prompts exit of Belgian group bpost's CEO

Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:26am EST

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(Adds quotes from CEO)

BRUSSELS Dec 23 (Reuters) - The chief executive of bpost will leave the Belgian postal group citing a disagreement with the government, its largest shareholder, over his salary.

The company said that Johnny Thijs, whose contract expires on Jan. 6, would remain until a successor was found.

The group's shares were suspended on Monday, ahead of the announcement, and were trading 1 percent lower after they resumed.

The Belgian government has played an active role in the management of the companies in which it has a majority stake, such as bpost and telecoms group Belgacom.

It forced the exit of Belgacom's Chief Executive Didier Bellens in November and last week said the maximum salary for the new chief executive would be 500,000 euros ($683,500) plus a bonus of 30 percent.

These rules would also apply to bpost, it said.

Thijs, who earned 1.12 million euros ($1.53 million) in 2012, according to the company's annual report, said he felt that it was best to leave after the recent debate about his salary.

"After 12 exciting years at bpost, I experienced the way in which the government led the discussion about my remuneration as a lack of confidence and trust from the main shareholder," Thijs said in an emailed statement.

The company was listed on the Brussels stock exchange in June 2013, when private equity backers CVC started to float their share of the company.

Belgium's minister for public enterprises said he had taken note of the decision by Thijs and thanked him for his work.

($1 = 0.7315 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Anthony Barker)

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