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France warns against "exorbitant" payment for ex-Renault chief Ghosn

PARIS (Reuters) – France's finance minister said on Sunday that a departure package for former Renault boss Carlos Ghosn, forced to get rid of an economic scandal, should not be "exorbitant" and that the French state would follow suit. .

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attends a press conference at the Paris Press Series in Paris, October 3, 2018. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau / File Photo

Renault, this week appointed a chairman and CEO tandem to replace Ghosn, has not yet completed his former boss's departure package, a potentially explosive problem in France where the government is facing protests over low wages and inequality.

"No one would understand if the departure payment for Carlos Ghosn was exorbitant," said Bruno Le Maire France Inter radio.

"We must be very vigilant."

The French state is Renault's largest shareholder with a stake of around 15 percent and has two governing bodies.

Ghosn pulled off his Renault trolley last week under pressure from the French government after he was arrested in Japan in November and accused of financial breach. He denies any wrongdoing.

The scandal has strained Renault's alliance with Japan's Nissan, an industrial partnership Ghosn built into a global carmaking giant over two decades.

The CGT Union of France has estimated Ghosn's departure package is worth EUR 25-28 million ($ 28-32 million), as well as an annual pension of EUR 800,000.

Le Maire refused to say what he thought would be an acceptable dividend for Ghosn, but said the government had previously succeeded in reducing Ghosn's 2018 pay package by 30 per cent from its 2017 total of 7.4 million euros.

The Minister of Finance also said that he would propose in the coming months the legislation to require large companies in France to rely on making the country tax resident.

The changes will specifically target large companies listed on the CAC-40 and SBF-120 indices on the Paris stock market, along with groups where the state has an ownership interest, Le Maire said.

The legislation will include sanctions for the company's chiefs who violate the rule, he added.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Danielle Rouquie and Bertrand Boucey; Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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