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France

Under-fire SocGen bosses give up stock options

Video by Jessica LE MASURIER , Valérie GIEBEL

Latest update : 2009-03-23

Four Societe Generale executives, including chief executive Daniel Bouton, who had been awarded thousands of stock options each, have agreed to give them up entirely after intense government pressure.

AFP - Top executives at Societe Generale have handed back thousands of stock options after French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned the perks were "unacceptable" given the state aid enjoyed by the bank, an internal letter showed Sunday.
   
Four Societe Generale bosses including chief executive Daniel Bouton, who last week received tens of thousands of stock options each, agreed Friday not to exercise them in the face of angry criticism from the French government.
   
Faced with continued attacks, they announced in a letter to staff at the bank, seen by AFP, they would give them up entirely.
   
"To cut short the controversy, we have decided to renounce these stock options and have informed the board of adminstrators," read the letter, to be mailed out on Monday.
   
Speaking a day after a million people took to the streets to demand a state boost to low wages, Sarkozy warned Friday it was "unacceptable" for executives of firms bailed out with state aid to receive bonuses and stock options.
   
The president made it clear he was referring to Societe Generale, which has received state loans worth 1.7 billion euros (2.3 billion dollars) to help it through the financial crisis.
   
"Obviously, some people are having trouble understanding what we are saying. Wherever there are layoffs, wherever there is state aid, bonuses and stocks options are unacceptable," Sarkozy said.
   
He added: "You cannot seek state money and (at the same time) draw up a plan to give out shares and bonuses."
   
In Britain, the former head of beleaguered bank RBS, Fred Goodwin, is resisting government pressure to give up a monthly pension of about 700,000 pounds (745,000 euros, one million dollars) despite overseeing record losses.
   
Stock options enable executives to buy a specific number of shares in their company in the future and are frequently used as a form of bonus or incentive to encourage managers to boost share value.

Date created : 2009-03-22

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