PARIS, April 10 The chief executive of
state-backed France Telecom said he would take a pay
cut if the French government follows through on a plan for
companies to pay a 75 percent tax on executive salaries above 1
million euros, Le Figaro newspaper reported.
"If the law is adopted ... I will make sure my pay is
reduced below the 1 million euro mark," Stephane Richard told
the French newspaper in its Wednesday edition. "I would not want
France Telecom to have to pay this tax on my salary."
The pledge, the first by a boss of a state-backed company,
suggests Richard wants to shield the company from the tax, while
sending a message that France Telecom does not award excessive
pay to its top managers.
The company's profits fell last year as it suffered growing
competition in its home market.
Socialist President Francois Hollande is battling to win
back support after being forced to cut France's budget targets
less than a year after his election.
His government suffered a blow when a court overruled a plan
to tax personal incomes above 1 million euros at 75 percent. It
has now proposed shifting the planned wealth tax onto companies.
The move is a way for Hollande to maintain an emblematic
campaign pledge to make France's rich help pull the country out
of economic crisis, but it has angered business.
France Telecom, which is 27 percent owned by the state, paid
Richard a fixed salary of 900,000 euros and a performance-based
portion of 600,000 euros in 2011 and 2012.
Richard served as chief of staff to France's finance
minister under the previous president and has been a
multi-millionaire since the leveraged buyout of real estate firm
Nexity a decade ago.
France Telecom's financial officer Gervais Pellissier earned
1.07 million euros in 2012, according to a registration document
for France Telecom's annual shareholder meeting.
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)