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Swiss Clear Path For Popular Vote On Curbing Executive Pay

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05/31/2012 | 02:07pm CEST

Switzerland's parliament Thursday cleared the way for a national referendum on an initiative to give shareholders greater control over executive pay packages and a counterproposal for a payroll tax.

The Swiss government will decide on a date for the vote on whether shareholders should be allowed to impose yearly limits on salary and bonus payments on Swiss banks and other companies.

Public discontent over the levels of executive pay has become a sensitive political issue in many countries, including the U.K., as banks say high bonus levels, which critics regard as excessive, are necessary to attract top talent.

Under local referendum rules, Swiss voters will have the option to choose between the initiative, which was launched by Swiss entrepreneur Thomas Minder, and the counterproposal.

The popular vote is expected to be held by March 2013.

Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS AG (UBS), slashed its 2011 overall bonus pool by 40% to 2.6 billion francs ($2.69 million), while rival Credit Suisse Group AG's (CS) Brady Dougan had his compensation last year more than halved to CHF5.8 million.

-By Neil MacLucas, Dow Jones Newswires; +41 43 443 8046; neil.maclucas@dowjones.com

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