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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les patrons du CAC résistent à la crise

by Lionel Venturini

Bosses of Biggest French Corporations Bear Up Under Crisis

Translated Monday 15 September 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

While on the one hand several studies indicate that the corporations operating in France plan low wage increases next year, lower than the European average, on the other hand a different study shows the healthy pay of the bosses of the biggest French corporations.

Topping the list, the advertising boss Maurice Lévy of Publicis, the best-paid boss of a corporation listed on the CAC 40 stock index, whose annual pay is 4.5 million euros, according to Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search consulting firm. This is far lower than the 16 million euros he got in 2011, which had aroused indignation, but all the same.

On his heels are the bosses of L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon (4 million euros), of LVMH, Bernard Arnault (3.9 million euros), and of Total, Christophe de Margerie (3.5 million euros).

According to an identical listing done last May by the newspaper Les Echos, these indecent pay figures are down 2.1% compared to 2012. Not that the big bosses spontaneously started tightening their belts, because their fixed pay has not been changed at all. It is their variable pay, pegged to the bottom line of the big corporations as seen by the shareholders, which has fallen due to the economic crisis.

Just think that Pierre Pringuet, the general director of Pernod Ricard, was only to receive 860,000 euros, as against 1.6 million euros last year. Or that at Danone, Franck Riboud has seen his variable pay tumble down from 1.3 million euros to 893,000 euros. Benoit Potier at Air Liquide has salvaged something, as he only lost 107,000 euros, from 1.6 million euros down to 1.493 million euros.

The classification only includes the cash received, but not the stock options or the free shares forked out to executives, who sometimes, as shareholders in their corporation, receive dividends. The magazine Capital calculated that Bernard Arnault raked in 730 million euros last year at that little game. His annual salary of 3.9 million euros is just pocket money.

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