Last week my company, Valeo, made the frontpage of all the big newspapers (at least in Europe) as our CEO stepped down and was given a 3.2M€ “golden parachute” farewell bonus in spite of the company needing governmental aid to stay afloat. The French government promptly started working on a new law to ban such bonuses in companies receiving financial aids.
His replacement was nominated at the same time as the ex-CEO of Saint Gobain, a high-tech materials manufacturer mostly known for its glass products (your car’s windshield and windows have a good chance of coming from them). The interesting thing being that he had to step down last December when Saint Gobain was indicted for price-fixing cartel by the European Union and fined for 900M€.
The interesting part is the reactions I observed on my French and Japanese colleagues as they heard the news:
- French people follow the news about the company and were all talking about it the Monday morning after the announcement.
- The bonus, although everyone thinks it’s pretty tasteless in our situation, was more or less expected.
- However people are really shocked that the new CEO’s last accomplishment was getting his company indicted for the very serious offense of price-fixing.
- For my Japanese colleagues, I had to break the details of the news to them as the local papers are much more interested in the latest development of the North Korean missile threat.
- They are pretty much outraged about the bonus.
- When told about the cartel affair, their reaction is incredulity: “Europe is really severe on those things…”
Funny how the points of view differ on the subject.