Proxinvest publishes its twentieth report « Executives’ compensations in the SBF 120 »

Paris, 6 November 2019

  • A contrasting 2018 financial year for executive compensation: moderation in the SBF 120 and drift in the CAC 40

Proxinvest’s annual report on 2018 executives’ remunerations shows a 4% decrease on the average total remunerations of executives in the SBF 120; it reached EUR 3.6 million in 2018.

This moderation is not found in the sub-sample of very large French companies. The average total remunerations of executives in the CAC 40 increased by 12% in 2018 (+6% on a constant sample basis), and reached EUR 5.8 million, breaking a new record since the 2008 financial crisis.

As a reminder, Proxinvest’s report values all elements of executive compensation granted for the 2018 financial year (fixed remuneration, annual bonus, fees, benefits in kind, stock options and free or performance shares valued at their date of allocation, cash incentives and other indirect forms of remuneration).

While fixed compensations dropped by 2% in the SBF 80, the 3% increase in the CAC 40 concerning fixed remunerations, above inflation, is too brisk. Furthermore, Proxinvest notes that stock-options are fading in the remuneration packages (2% of the total) and an extensiveness of free shares (34% of the total). These shares are usually attached to performance conditions (“long-term incentives”), but often lead to the allocation of considerable amounts.

Once again, Proxinvest’s study concludes that there are no justifications for the increase of remunerations in the CAC 40, both in terms of shareholder performance, and in terms of social cohesion. In 2018, Proxinvest noticed a 6.2% drop in cumulative net profits within the CAC 40, on a constant sample basis, and a 8% decrease in the CAC 40 Dividends reinvested index. While the French “PACTE Law » will require companies to disclose the gaps between executives and employees’ average compensations (« CEO Pay Ratio » or “Ratio d’Equité”), Proxinvest notes that the increase of the remuneration of executives in the CAC 40 is three times faster than employees, in 2018 as well as for the 2014-2018 period.

  • The excesses observed on a small quantity the top-ranking executives explain the increase of the average remuneration in the CAC 40

The average remuneration of EUR 5.8 million for executives in the CAC 40 had not been reached since 2003 and, for the second year in a row, exceeds the maximum socially acceptable remuneration of 240 times the French minimum wage(“SMICs”) defined by Proxinvest, representing approximately EUR 5 million. Curiously, in 2018, 22 SBF 120 executives (16 in the CAC 40) were above the ceiling recommended by Proxinvest against 29 in 2017 (including 19 in the CAC 40).  In the same way, the median of the remunerations in the CAC 40 decreased by 12% reaching EUR 4.1 million, indicating that the deviation is mainly due to the remuneration of a few executives among the highest paid.

The Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Systèmes, Bernard Charlès, is still on the top of the rank with a total remuneration of EUR 33.1 million, according to Proxinvest (EUR 22.9 million according to the Company). A 34.6% increase thanks to a very generous allocation of performance shares, whose valuation was restated by Proxinvest.

In second place, François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kering, whose exceptional grant of performance units, with no performance conditions attached, amounted to EUR 5.81 million, as well as an assistance agreement with its holding Artémis amounting to EUR 5.08 million. Hence, his total remuneration amounts to EUR 17.3 million (+75.7%) according to Proxinvest (EUR 12.2 million according to the Company). 

Carlos Ghosn, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Renault and former President of Nissan, is in third place with EUR 14.3 million (+ 12.1%). Carlos Ghosn did not receive any variable remuneration for the 2018 financial year from Renault since the resolution regarding his remuneration was not approved (on recommendation of the Board) during the annual general meeting held in June 2019. Furthermore, he was deprived of both retirement and performance shares. As to Nissan, the total remuneration disclosed for the year ended 31 March 2019 amounted to EUR 13.3 million. The Ghosn case made it clear that he had the absolute authority to set his own remuneration at Nissan, and could therefore decide on this increase regarding his fixed remuneration. The case also exposed a lack of transparency towards shareholders, and the ability to control indirect benefits received by related parties.

Douglas Pferdehirt, now Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TechnipFMC, comes in fourth place with a total remuneration amounting to EUR  11.7 million (+ 10.7%), whereas the company has net losses of USD 1.7 billion, but also a 16% decrease of its total revenues, a 61% decrease of the share’s market price since the merger, and a very depraved social context. Once again, he was awarded compensation instruments such as options and restricted shares, with no performance conditions attached. A common practice in the United States, but that does not comply with the French AFEP-MEDEF Code.

Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L’Oréal, is fifth in the ranking at EUR 9.5 million, a slight decrease of -0.5%. It should be noted that Jean-Paul Agon has the highest fixed remuneration in the CAC 40 (EUR 2.2 million), and the highest expected pension scheme (EUR 1.57 million) of the CAC 40.


For any further information regarding the report please contact:

Proxinvest’s secretary: –

Jehanne Leroy, Author of the Report –

Loïc Dessaint, Chief Executive Officer –

Proxinvest is a French independent proxy firm supporting the engagement and proxy analysis processes of investors.

PROXINVEST’ Report (350 pages) can be ordered and will be available starting 13 November at “la Librairie du délit (ex LDEL/JUSTICIA )” : or +33 1 48 56 89 89 or

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