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French business lobby adopts new guidance on "say on pay"

PARIS (Reuters) - The French business lobbies Afep-Medef have adopted a new "business code" recommending wider adoption of "say on pay" measures that give shareholders a bigger say on top management pay packages, the groups said in a statement on Sunday.

"Shareholders will get to vote on pay packages in general assembly meetings from next year," the statement said.

Medef head Laurence Parisot said the move had been welcomed by French President Francois Hollande, who in his campaign for the presidency last year slammed what he called excessive executive pay and sought to cap the salaries of bosses of state-owned companies.

"(Francois Hollande) lent a sympathetic ear and was satisfied," Parisot was quoted as saying in an interview with Les Echos business newspaper.

Last month, the French government dropped plans to pass a law to impose such a ceiling on executive pay in the private sector and to require "say on pay" votes, saying it hoped French businesses would design their own rules.

Shareholders of advertising agency Publicis , who approved the pay packages of its chief executive and chairman last month, became the first example in France of the "say on pay" governance common in the U.S. and Britain.

Shareholder votes on pay in Britain will only become binding later this year but a series of protest votes on the issue at major companies last year forced the resignation of at least one chief executive.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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