Financial News

Swiss Vote Outlaws Executive Bonus Pay

Expat executives in Europe or Switzerland have suffered financial setbacks as two major initiatives saw a clampdown on paying bonuses.

The European Union has ruled that banker bonuses will be capped at double their salary in a move that has not gone down well in the City of London.

However, voters in Switzerland have also voiced their anger at executive pay deals by voting in a referendum to pass into law new rules which ban many kinds of compensation.

The referendum has seen one of the most overwhelming ‘Yes’ votes in the history of the country when 68% of voters gave it their backing.

Interestingly, in the canton which houses the country’s financial capital of Zurich, slightly more voters backed the initiative with 71% of voters giving their approval.

Minder Initiative

The Swiss Parliament now has a year to put into law the referendum’s demands to ban golden hellos and golden parachute payments for executives.

The new law will only apply to Swiss companies listed on the country’s stock exchange.

Dubbed as the ‘Minder Initiative’, the move was the brainchild of senator and entrepreneur Thomas Minder.

Mr Minder said he was not surprised by the decision, and that voters had sent a strong signal to the boards of Swiss companies and to the country’s government.

He said the Swiss were angry that companies had focused on paying massive amounts to executives instead of paying dividends.

The new law would see board members sitting for just a year and would ban compensation, including golden handshakes, which are paid to executives joining a company.

The vote also sees the end of golden parachutes, which are payments made to executives leaving a firm.

Unrealistic pay

The Swiss law would also ban payments for takeovers and for selling off parts of a business.

The result of the Swiss vote has raised eyebrows since Switzerland has avoided much of the fallout of the economic crisis which has gripped many other European countries.

However, the Swiss public has been increasingly angered by perceived unrealistic levels for executive pay and bonuses.

Their anger is fuelled by revelations of the pay package for Daniel Vasella, who used to lead pharmaceuticals firm NovartisBSE.

He was paid £10.6 million in 2011 and then another £50.6 million in a planned golden parachute deal spread over six years to prevent him working for another company.

Other pay deals have also attracted criticism, including those for Severin Schwan, boss of pharmaceutical firm Roche who received pay of £8.8 million, Paul Bulcke of Nestle who got £7.9 million and Ernst Tanner, who runs chocolate firm Lindt, who received £7 million.

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