$4 Million Severance Elicits Outrage in France
A wave of indignation swept over France when it became known Tuesday that the head of a large auto parts company who was edged out because of poor results walked away with a severance package worth more than $4 million, The Washington Post reported. The outrage, which intensified government threats to pass a law limiting executive pay, reflected a growing sense of unease as the global financial crisis bites ever more deeply into the French economy, with unemployment surpassing 2 million and recrimination mounting against President Nicolas Sarkozy's attempt to remedy the situation by propping up ailing banks and businesses. The package was granted, the newspaper Liberation reported, even though the company lost more than $250 million last year, laid off about 1,600 employees in France and received nearly $25 million in government aid to weather the crisis. Prime Minister François Fillon, addressing reporters during a visit to Washington, said the government would invoke its 8 percent shareholder voting rights to reverse the payout. "Those who do not demonstrate a sense of responsibility endanger our whole social and economic system," he said, according to the Reuters news service. Read more.