Average CEO compensation levels in France for financial year 2018 have increased to their maximum since 2015 and reached the € 5.2 million mark, which represents a growth rate of 13.8% in comparison with 2017. This significant increase in CEO compensation levels is however primarily attributable to changes in the index composition. When only considering companies already listed in the CAC 40 in the previous year, the increase is rather moderate and amounts solely to 3.7%.
According to this year’s analysis of annual reports conducted by hkp/// group, the CEO compensation levels among CAC 40 companies are significantly lower than those observed among companies listed in the STOXX® Europe 50 and EURO STOXX 50® indices. This difference in CEO compensation is partly due to the larger size of the European top companies listed in the STOXX indices. This year’s special analysis shows however that – even if adjusted for company size – CEO compensation levels in the CAC 40, especially for large companies, are still slightly below those in STOXX companies.
The disclosure practices among CAC 40 companies are considered among the best in the European comparison – with the new legislation set forth in 2019 yet further improvements can be expected.

Average CEO direct compensation in k EUR in CAC 40 and STOXX companies in 2015-2018; foreign currencies converted into Euro at the average exchange rate for 2018

CEO compensation levels
Compensation levels in French CAC 40 companies vary significantly across the index constituents and range between less than € 2 million and about € 23 million in direct compensation1. The CEOs of luxury and technology companies tend to be paid higher than those of other industries. The major part of the compensation packages of the top-earners in the CAC 40 is made up of multi-year variable compensation elements. In some cases, these compensation elements are
especially high this year due to exceptional grants for particular achievements, like a successful company transformation.


The exceptional growth in CEO direct compensation in the CAC 40 is mainly due to special LTI grants in 2018, but also base salaries as well as actual annual variable compensation show a rather strong development in the last three years.

Alena Vititneva, Consultant hkp/// group


The compensation levels at the lower end of the compensation ranking may be explained by unique situations in the respective companies. Examples are the loss of the right to new grants of variable compensation due to office termination or the double function executed by the CEO, also serving as a Chairman of the Supervisory Board and receiving an additional compensation for this role, which is not considered in the analysis of CEO compensation.

Autor Verena Vandervelt

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