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Stellantis: shareholders validate the controversial remuneration of Carlos Tavares

A closely scrutinized General Assembly was held this Tuesday afternoon in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Stellantis: shareholders validate the controversial remuneration of Carlos Tavares

A closely scrutinized General Assembly was held this Tuesday afternoon in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At the heart of the tensions, the remuneration of the boss, Carlos Tavares, for the 2023 financial year of Stellantis. If no allusion was made to this subject during the meeting, the general director of the fourth largest automobile group in the world will receive 36.5 million euros, including a bonus of 10 million euros for the “transformation” of the group created in 2021 after the merger of PSA and Fiat Chrysler. This sum also includes retirement pensions paid over the long term and a bonus if he achieves objectives set for 2025, the last year of his current mandate at the head of the manufacturer.

During this General Meeting, the group's shareholders voted 70% in favor of the payment of this remuneration, supporting the position of Carlos Tavares. This rate, however, remains lower than last year, which was then established at 80%. A bad signal for the company. The businessman will thus directly receive 23.5 million euros, mainly composed of shares. Monday, during a trip to the Trémery factory, in Moselle, the boss of Stellantis assumed these amounts, even comparing himself to “a football player and a Formula 1 driver”. “If you consider that this is not acceptable, make a law and modify the law and I will respect it,” he said at the microphone of France Bleu Lorraine Nord.

In reality, the shareholder vote this Tuesday was only advisory, because the headquarters being based in Amsterdam, Dutch law applies. But Carlos Tavares agreed on Monday “that he would react democratically to the shareholder vote.” The boss of Stellantis made no comment on this subject during the Annual General Meeting.

Also read: From the rescue of PSA to the creation of Stellantis, the prodigious decade of Carlos Tavares

Several consulting firms, however, stood up against this sum, considered excessive. This is particularly the case of the American investor advisory firm Glass Lewis, which had expressed “serious reservations”. Ditto for Proxinvest, pointing to “too high remuneration compared to companies in the same sector”, launched Monday Charles Pinel, general director of the consulting agency, on BFM Business. If he highlights the group's “sparkling results”, he calls on the boss of Stellantis “to be careful”: “You are responsible for the cohesion within your company and even a little more broadly for the cohesion of the capitalist system”.

For its part, the State shareholder had already clarified its position. At the end of March, the director of the public investment bank, Nicolas Dufourcq, indicated that he would “abstain on these questions of remuneration”. “We have reached levels which are indeed American, for a group which is essentially American, but which may in fact not be completely understood in Europe,” he commented.

Engineer remuneration has been the subject of debate for several years now. In 2016, Manuel Valls, then prime minister, criticized the doubling of the salary of the former boss of PSA-Peugeot Citroën. “It’s a salary that does not correspond to reality,” he pointed out. In 2014, Carlos Tavares received 2.75 million euros then 5.24 million euros in 2015, or seven times less than his current remuneration for the 2023 financial year. The controversy has since only amplified , following the curve of his salary. In 2022, Emmanuel Macron judged the “astronomical” amount of his compensation to be “shocking and excessive”. Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, pleaded “that at the European level, we must consider capping systems”. However, shareholders voted in favor of the payment of his remuneration, almost 80%.

For its part, the Stellantis CGT denounces a “totally shocking and scandalous” salary, with “an increase of almost 50%, when most of us had only 3.7% and are struggling to finish the month”. Same observation for the CFDT, which targets “the growing pay gap between employees and managers”. “We would have liked higher salary increases, compared to inflation,” sighs to Le Figaro Sébastien Sidoli, central union delegate of the CFDT. Jean-Pierre Mercier, SOUTH delegate of Stellantis, was more vehement this Tuesday on BFM Business: “We are disgusted and revolted”. If he deplores thousands of layoffs, particularly in Italy, he recalls that it is the employees “who made these millions of euros”. On February 15, Stellantis unveiled a new record profit of 18.6 billion euros for 2023, up 11% year-on-year, with a turnover close to 190 billion euros. In order to calm the enthusiasm of employees, the group announced a redistribution of nearly 1.9 billion euros to its employees around the world, representing a minimum of 4,100 euros for the lowest salaries in France.

In addition to this heated issue, there are also questions about the role of John Elkann, heir to the Agnelli family, whose Exor holding company is the majority shareholder in Stellantis, at 14.2%. Now executive president of the group, the salary of the Italian leader amounts to 4.8 million in 2023. “When you have a general director, you must have a non-executive president and not pay him as much,” underlines on BFMTV Denis Branche, co-founder of Phitrust.

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