ING drops big pay hike plan for CEO after protests


The Hague (AFP)

Dutch top bank ING said Tuesday it has dropped a plan to massively hike its chief executive's pay package after protests from shareholders, the public and even the prime minister.

"We realise we have underestimated the public response in the Netherlands on this clearly sensitive matter," ING supervisory board chairman Jeroen van der Veer said in a statement.

On Thursday, ING unveiled plans to raise Ralph Hamers' salary by 2.2 percent -- and give him "fixed shares with a value equal to 50 percent of gross base salary".

The bank gave no figures, but Dutch newspapers reported that together with a 16 percent bonus, it would push Hamers' annual income to over three million euros ($3.7 million), highlighting the fact that other ING staff were only awarded a 1.7 percent pay rise.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte weighed in Friday, calling the proposed raise "excessive" and "unwise".

Politicians including Rutte have sought to restore public confidence in the banking sector after the 2008 financial crisis badly shook the Dutch economy.

ING itself went through deep restructuring following a 10 billion euro government cash injection in October 2008 during the height of the banking crisis.

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra welcomed ING's move Tuesday, calling it "a sensible decision", according to the ANP news agency.

ING had previously defended the proposed salary increase by saying that it would bring the CEO's remuneration more in line with the bank's European peers.