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Outrage over French CEO's €4m 'golden hello'

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Outrage over French CEO's €4m 'golden hello'
French CGT labour union fellows hold a banner reading " Sanofi kills jobs " during a demonstration against unemployment in the French industry on October 9, 2012. Photo: AFP
15:52 CET+01:00
“Indecent” and “incomprehensible” were just two of the words used to describe the €4 million ‘golden hello' that the new CEO of French company Sanofi will be able to pocket.

Olivier Brandicourt will have more reason than most to feel good about landing a new job.

The new CEO of pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, whose appointment was announced last week, has been given a welcome bonus, known as a ‘golden hello’ or ‘golden handshake’ that could reach up to an eye-watering €4 million.

According to a document on Sanofi’s website the new boss will be given a lump sum of €2 million, when he takes up his role on April 2nd.

If he’s still in the role in January 2016, which you’d expect him to be given the €1.2 million annual salary, then he’ll be rewarded with another €2 million.

His annual salary could also reach as much as €4.2 million if he achieves his targets.

Sanofi explained that the granting of the whopping bonus was in fact to compensate Brandicourt for missing out on various bonuses that he was entitled to in his previous role at rival pharmaceuticals giant Bayer.

While ‘golden handshakes’ are common in the US they are fairly new in France, a country often accused of having a deep distrust towards the ultra-wealthy. Even president François Hollande once admitted he didn't like rich people.

Needless to say Brandicourt’s bumper bonus has not gone down too well either with unions or members of the Socialist government.

“We are cutting jobs, we are selling off sites and we give all this money to those at the top,” said a disgusted Thierry Bodin, a CGT union rep at Sanofi.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll described the bonus as “incomprehensible”.

Le Foll called for the rules around ‘golden hellos’ to be made clear and called for “some morality” when it comes to deciding these kind of bonuses.

He accepted that imposing any kind of law around 'golden hellos' was made difficult by the fact most companies were multinational.

Minister for the Environment Ségolène Royal also waded into the row calling for some “self-discipline” and “decency” from companies and asked Brandicourt to give up his bonus.

Should the CEO give up €4 million? 

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