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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2646

Fat Cat Initiative: the Swiss say ‘yes’ in a referendum to curb executive pay excesses

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Almost 68% of Swiss voters, in an unprecedented move, voted in favour of a move in a country-wide referendum, which allows shareholders of companies to veto on executive remuneration packages. The ripple effect of the initiative is going to be felt not only in Europe but also beyond its borders, especially when the impact of recession shows no sign of a let-up.

Gone are the days of inflated ‘golden-hello’ and similar gestures which often bordered on outrage. Under the latest move, they will simply be replaced by one-off lump sum – either when a senior executive joins or leaves a company.

The outcome of the referendum is surprising given that the position of the country in the world as a pro-business terminus. The concerted campaign launched by big businesses like Nestle against the move on the grounds of what they called ‘being less attractive to corporations and managers’ seemed to have rung hollow in the presence of overwhelming ‘yes’ vote.

The fierce debate over bank bonuses in Europe – even if some of them make losses after being bailed out by taxpayers - may have played its role in preparing the mind-set of the Swiss for the decisive action, before it is too late. The disastrous performance of some of the big corporate players that include major banks and heavy job losses may have made the Swiss determined to vote for the initiative, proposed by businessman-turned politician of the country.

Switzerland joins a club of nations which adopted similar measures in recent times to give shareholders a greater say when it comes to the remuneration packages of senior executives. The UK, the Netherlands and Denmark have brought forward similar legislations to curb the excesses of some executives.

- Asian Tribune -

Fat Cat Initiative: the Swiss say ‘yes’ in a referendum to curb executive pay excesses
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