PARIS May 29 Shareholders of advertising agency
Publicis approved the pay packages of its chief
executive and chairman on Wednesday, the first example in France
of the "say on pay" governance common in the U.S. and Britain.
At an annual meeting on Wednesday, 79 percent of
shareholders voted for CEO Maurice Levy's 2012 compensation of
4.8 million euros, which was based only on performance without a
In the United Kingdom, where pay packages are regularly
voted on by shareholders but almost never rejected, that would
represent an embarrassment for management.
In comparison, Chairwoman Elisabeth Badinter, who is the
group's biggest shareholder with a 9.5 percent stake, saw her
package backed by 99 percent of shareholders.
Levy's pay, which is among the highest of French bosses,
became a flashpoint during the 2012 Presidential election in
which eventual winner Francois Hollande slammed what he called
excessive executive pay and called on the rich to pay more tax
while the country was in economic crisis.
Levy earned 16 million euros in 2012 as part of a deferred
performance scheme in which he met the targets.
Since his election, President Hollande has made taxing the
rich part of his political programme, although his
administration has run into problems on the specific measures to
A first proposal for a 75 percent tax on salaries above one
million was rejected by France's highest administrative court as
unconstitutional and is in the process of being rewritten.
The French government also said last week that it was
dropping a plan to pass a law to impose a ceiling on executive
pay and require "say on pay" votes in the private sector.
The country's business lobby, Afep-Medef is inching towards
encouraging more transparency on pay issues. Les Echos reported
on Monday it was working on new guidance to recommend wider
adoption of "say for pay" measures.
At Publicis, shareholder advisory firm ISS remained critical
in its report that the votes on pay hadn't been applied to more
Shareholder votes on pay in Britain will only become binding
later this year but a series of protest votes on the issue at
major companies last year forced the resignation of at least one
Publicis shares were down 2.4 percent to 56 euros per share
at 1152 GMT while the French blue-chip index was down