Emmanuel Macron will push for a cap on excessive executive pay if re-elected president after calling the €19m (£15.7m) package handed to the automaker chief ‘shocking and excessive’ Stellantis car.
Macron, who is campaigning ahead of the final vote for the French presidency on April 24 against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, told France Info radio that he favors a European cap on the pay of senior leaders. .
The multimillion-pound payment handed over to chief executive Carlos Tavares last year when French carmaker PSA merged with Italian-American rival Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis, one of the world’s biggest automakers, is become a major issue in the elections.
Macron and Le Pen are trying to woo the 7.7 million people who voted in the first round for left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who described the second round as “a choice between two evils”.
A recent poll for France 24 showed that 34% of Melenchon voters said they were in favor of Macron against 30% for Le Pen, while 36% were undecided.
“We must fight at European level so that remuneration is not excessive,” Macron said. “We need to set caps and have governance for Europe that makes these things acceptable. Otherwise, society will explode at any time.
“People can’t be faced with purchasing power issues…and then see those kinds of sums.”
In addition to his base salary of €2m, Tavares will receive €7.5m in performance-related compensation, €2.4m in pension contributions and a bonus of €1.7m linked to the success of the merger. . In addition, he will also receive 5.6 million euros worth of shares in the company, according to Stellantis.
In 2017, PSA boss Tavares acquired General Motors’ European operations, giving him control of several factories, including the Ellesmere Port plant in Merseyside, which saw its last Astra roll off the production line last week before switching to electric car models.
Stellantis was created in 2019 when the boards of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot owner Groupe PSA approved a €40bn (£35bn) merger to rival Toyota, Daimler, GM and Volkswagen.
“These kind of sums are astronomical,” said Macron, who was supported by 9.7 million people in the first round against 8.1 million for Le Pen.
“We have to do what we did with minimum tax rates and the fight against tax evasion. We must convince our European partners to initiate a reform that will regulate executive compensation.
Earlier this week, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal called Tavares’ pay “obviously not normal figures”.
Le Pen, who faces Macron in the second and final round of the April 24 presidential election, has also been drawn into the debate.
“It’s shocking, but less shocking than others,” she said, before appearing to support the bonuses as a reward for the merger deal. “For once he got good results,” she said.