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German automakers still withhold CEO salary info

Berlin. Top managers of most German automakers are still refusing to disclose their annual incomes.

Germany's attorney general Brigitte Zypries recently presented the cornerstones of a planned bill that would require all German companies listed on the stock exchange to disclose annually the details of their executives' individual wages.

"There will be a difference between performance related and non-performance related income," Zypries said.

She said elements that are "incentives in the long-term" also need to be disclosed.

Deviation from this regulation will only be possible if three quarters of the stockholders agree to it in the general meeting.

Public companies in most developed countries, including France and the United States, already disclose compensation of top executives.

Germany's practice is typically to disclose the total compensation of the management board but not what was paid to individual members.

Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking believes that nobody but the supervisory board, the taxman and his wife should know about his wages.

DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp feels it is sufficient to disclose the basic income and the variable performance related payments of the whole of the board of directors.

Only the Volkswagen group is prepared to be transparent regarding directors' wages. Stockholders were told a few days ago that CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder earned 2.63 million euros in 2004.

The German supplier Continental will follow VW's example and will disclose CEO Manfred Wennemer's income at the company's earnings press conference at the end of this month.

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