Shareholders set to oppose Credit Suisse wage bill

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Groups representing major shareholders said Wednesday that they intended to oppose Credit Suisse's 2009 wage report at the Swiss bank's annual general meeting this week, in a revolt over bonus payments.

The Ethos fund, which groups 75 pension funds, recommended a vote against the remuneration report for 2009, according to a position paper posted on its website.

US investment advisors RiskMetrics and Glass Lewis have also announced their intention to reject the remuneration report at the AGM on Friday.

The three groups were involved in a broader shareholders revolt at rival bank UBS earlier this month, refusing to discharge former executives from their responsibility for the Swiss bank's financial trouble.

Roby Tschopp, head of shareholders activist association Actares, said he was particularly irritated by the 18-million-Swiss franc (12.6-million-euro, 16.6-million-dollar) bonus Credit Suisse chief executive Brady Dougan is set to receive for 2009.

"We will oppose the 2009 report," Tschopp told AFP

"We oppose this sum, which is not related to the performance of the company, even if it fared better than others," he added.

The announcement of the deferred bonus payments earlier this month sparked a political outcry in Switzerland, especially an additional long term 71-million-franc package for Dougan that would make him one of the best paid executives in the banking industry.

Credit Suisse chairman Hans-Ulrich Doerig defended the policy, pointing to higher pay for top executives at US banks including Goldman Sachs over the past five to six years.

"I understand the irritation. But Credit Suisse has to take account of national sensitivity as well as maintain its competitivity at international level," Doerig told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

Credit Suisse weathered the financial crisis far better than its bigger Swiss rival UBS, avoiding the need for a bailout and swiftly returning to profit last year after a record loss in 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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