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Hands off our pay

BERLIN, May 22 – A group of Germany\’s top managers has written to Chancellor Angela Merkel demanding she scrap plans to regulate elements of company pay contracts, business daily Handelsblatt reported Friday.

Representatives of companies such as Siemens, BMW, BASF and Bertelsmann signed the letter slamming a raft of measures under consideration to regulate executive pay in the wake of public anger over bonuses paid to top managers.

"We emphatically warn against legislating in corporate decisions such as how to structure executive board members\’ contracts," said the letter, obtained by Handelsblatt.

Their main concern is a proposal to make managers take a two-year break before moving from the board of directors to the supervisory board — a very common shift in Germany.

They also criticise plans to introduce legislation requiring firms to hold back bonus payments for a period of several years.

"The possible consequence of this legislation would be to raise the fixed salary part of the compensation package," the letter said.

Speaking at a regular briefing, a government spokesman confirmed the existence of the letter, adding that the debate on executive pay had been ongoing for several weeks within Germany\’s uneasy coalition administration.

The government will take into account the arguments put forward by the 12 top managers and take a decision on the issue "in the coming weeks," said spokesman Thomas Steg.

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