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French government, unions denounce bonuses for Alcatel-Lucent boss

Michel Combes, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent (right) and Rajeev Suri (left), president of Nokia, after a press conference in Paris, 15 April 2015.
Michel Combes, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent (right) and Rajeev Suri (left), president of Nokia, after a press conference in Paris, 15 April 2015. Reuters/Charles Platiau

France’s Socialist government and unions are calling on the head of Alcatel-Lucent to renounce the reported bonuses of 14 million euros that he is slated to receive as the equipment maker is acquired by Finnish telecom giant Nokia.

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Michel Combes is due to step down as part of a 15.6-billion-euro deal to create the world's biggest supplier of mobile phone network equipment.

News of his payout was reported by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, which cited official documents and current share values.

The Socialist government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters Sunday that the size of the bonus "is always political at a time when we are emerging from what is a difficult crisis for a lot of French people."

The CFE-CGC union, meanwhile, stressed that Combes “should have the grace to renounce most of the bonuses" as he had instituted a "recovery plan of unprecedented violence."

Since the start of his position at the helm of the French-American company in 2013, Combes has overseen a recovery plan that has tripled its share value but led to the loss of 10,000 jobs.

Alcatel-Lucent has defended Combes, saying that he had saved the company from bankruptcy.

The acquisition by Nokia was announced in April. The new group will go by the name Nokia and will be run by Nokia’s current management team.

Combes is to step down from his role Tuesday.

The Financial Times reported last week that he will join French billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Netherlands-based telecoms company Altice as chief operating officer. He is also expected to be appointed chairman of Drahi’s Numericable-SFR, France’s second-largest mobile carrier.

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