Shareholders reject a compensation package for Franco-Italian carmaker Stellantis' CEO amid outcry only days before French presidential vote that has focused on cost of living.

CEO Carlos Tavares faces controversy over his multimillion dollar executive pay package.
CEO Carlos Tavares faces controversy over his multimillion dollar executive pay package. (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen have called the pay package of Franco-Italian carmaker Stellantis' CEO "shocking" with excessive executive pay now a hot topic in France's tight-run presidential election.

"We're talking about astronomical sums here ... we should put a cap on these, this could work if we act at a European level," Macron told franceinfo radio on Friday.

Just nine days ahead of a runoff that will determine who will lead the European Union's second-largest economy for the next five years, opinion polls show Macron is only slightly ahead of Le Pen in a contest that could potentially go either way.

The 2021 compensation package for Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares adds up to around $20.5 million, plus a stock package worth some additional $34.6 million and long-term compensation of about $27 million.

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Le Pen agrees

"People can't have purchasing power problems, difficulties and anxiety in their lives and see sums like this," Macron said, adding that otherwise "society going to blow up".

Le Pen echoed his comments.

"Of course it is shocking. It's even more shocking when it's a CEO who has put the company in difficulty and gets considerable sums," she told BFM television, suggesting one way to offset such remuneration was to develop staff shareholdings.

A spokesperson for Stellantis said they do not comment on politicians' positions and that the company would explain the pay package in its 2022 remuneration report.

Just over 52 percent of the company's shareholders voted on Wednesday against the compensation package in a consultative vote.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies