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SocGen backs down on stock options after govt criticism

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-20

The bosses of French bank Société Générale have accepted to forego hundreds of thousands of stock options after criticism from several members of the French government, as well as President Nicolas Sarkozy.

France's government spokesman, Luc Chatel, has slammed the granting of thousands of stock options to bosses of French bank Société Générale, calling it ‘indecent’.

"When I heard that, I found it indecent", he said on French radio on Friday, "because in the current context, (...) all are expected to send constructive messages."

His comments came after Société Générale announced on Wednesday that it would grant 70,000 stock options to its chairman Daniel Bouton and 150,000 to its CEO, Frédéric Oudéa. Didier Alix and Séverin Cabannes, both associate executive directors, were granted 50,000 stock options each.

"This type of allocation of stock options at the moment appears to me to contradict the mode of governance proposed by the Medef (the French business confederation) and the Afep (a French association of private companies) a few weeks ago and approved by 94% of companies", he added.

Under pressure from the government, the Medef and the Afep adopted an ‘ethical code’ in October regarding pay and the holding of multiple positions by company bosses. At the beginning of January, this code was adopted by almost all large French companies listed on the stock exchange.

Date created : 2009-03-20

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