Swiss voters change constitution to curb excesses of the ‘fat cats’

By Felix Egli and Wu Fan, VISCHER

During the financial and economic crisis in Europe, European chairmen and top-level executives of listed companies were increasingly set up with what were perceived as astronomic compensation packages and spectacular golden parachutes or handshakes, paid even when their companies operated at a loss, laid off employees and offered shareholders nothing but falling share prices and no dividends.

Felix Egli 菲谢尔律师事务所 苏黎世办公室 高级合伙人 Senior Partner VISCHER Zurich
Felix Egli
Senior Partner

In Switzerland, Mr Minder, a small-to- medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneur manufacturing mouthwash products, was upset seven years ago when his company lost 500,000 Swiss francs (US$540,000) in the Swissair bankruptcy, while the last Swissair CEO had feathered his own nest by a 12.5 million franc prepayment of his five-year salary.

Mr Minder successfully launched a constitutional “fat cat” initiative designed to improve shareholders’ say on pay of listed Swiss companies. On 3 March 2013 Swiss voters adopted his initiative by a clear margin of 67% affirmative votes. Consequently, the Swiss constitution was amended accordingly.

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