Record remuneration of big bosses in France in 2021

The remuneration of the big bosses of the CAC 40 in France peaked at 7.9 million euros on average last year, more than 100 times that of their employees, according to a report published on Tuesday by the consulting firm for Proxinvest shareholders. The study notes “a sharp increase in median and average compensation in all indices (CAC 40 and SBF 120, editor’s note). We are of course at historical records”, declared Jehanne Leroy, director of ESG research (environmental criteria, Social and Governance) during a media conference.

The average total compensation of bosses in the CAC 40 index has increased by 52%

They are driven by the very good post-Covid results of the companies in 2021, on which elements of remuneration are indexed. The average total compensation of the bosses of the CAC 40 index has increased by 52%, while that of the executive presidents of the SBF 120 index composed of the 120 largest companies listed in France has increased by 22% to reach 4.5 million. euros. In both cases, it is unheard of for fifteen years. These 2021 figures were obtained by comparison with those of 2019, before the health crisis, and not compared to those of 2020 which is considered to be an unrepresentative year given that a certain number of managers had given up part of their remuneration.

The increase is also explained by a “Carlos Tavares effect (the general manager of the Franco-Italian-American automotive group) Stellantis (Peugeot-Citroën-Fiat…)”, whose total compensation (fixed, variable, shareholder) reaches a record never seen by Proxinvest, at 66.7 million euros (19.15 million euros according to the company). “This is the first time in 15 years that a company has presented total compensation above 50 million euros,” according to the report. Carlos Tavares’ compensation was rejected on April 15 by Stellantis shareholders, but this vote was purely advisory in the Netherlands where the company is based, unlike France where such a vote has been binding since 2018.

“More than 100 times the average salary of employees”

It is also “the first time in eight years that the average compensation of CAC 40 managers represents more than 100 times the average compensation of employees”, or 369 times the minimum wage on a 39-hour basis, according to the report which detects a worse compliance with the socially acceptable maximum remuneration ceiling (5.12 million euros) calculated by Proxinvest. In all, 29 leaders exceed this ceiling, compared to 14 in 2020 and 24 in 2019, which should relaunch the debate on the purchasing power of the most modest, further amputated by inflation. Over the period 2014-2021, the average compensation of executives increased by 83.8%, i.e. three times faster than that of employees, which increased by 23.9%.

The Proxinvest firm, which issues voting recommendations to shareholders for general meetings, is however pleased that, since 2021, all CAC 40 companies have now integrated ESG performance conditions into one of the variable compensation of the CEO. In the top 5 of the highest paid executives are Carlos Tavares (66.7 million euros), Bernard Charlès of the Dassault Systèmes software group (44.1 million euros, including 40.8 million in shareholder remuneration), Daniel Julien from the call center company Teleperformance (19.6 million euros), François-Henri Pinault from the luxury group Kering (12 million euros) and Paul Hudson from the pharmaceutical laboratory Sanofi (9 million euros) .