December 4, 2015 / 11:48 AM / 3 years ago

Spanish minister criticises Abengoa over executive payoffs

MADRID, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Spain’s industry minister criticised energy and engineering group Abengoa on Friday for handing out multi-million euro payoffs to executives in the months before the indebted company entered into pre-insolvency talks with creditors.

Jose Manuel Soria said executives at Abengoa, which could face Spain’s largest-ever bankruptcy, had not invested wisely, given the financial cost of the group’s accumulated debt was far greater than its cash flow and income.

“It seems ridiculous that Abengoa’s executives left the company in pre-insolvency and they receive some 25 million euros in payoffs,” Soria told Onda Cero radio in an interview. “I think their financial policy was profoundly mistaken.”

The company has so far declared net debt of 9 billion euros ($9.8 billion).

Abengoa’s former executive chairman Felipe Benjumea retired in September with a 11.5 million euro package, while former chief executive Manuel Sanchez resigned in May with a 4.5 million euro payoff.

Soria’s criticism of the bonuses follows similar comments from Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, who said compensation packages given to directors were not ethical.

“The state creditors are analysing if these payoffs might affect its interests,” he told El Economista newspaper on Wednesday. ($1 = 0.9189 euros) (Reporting by Tomás Cobos and Angus Berwick; Editing by Julien Toyer and David Holmes)

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