The chairman of Bombardier Inc. is defending the multimillion-dollar compensation plan handed to former CEO Alain Bellemare.
Pierre Beaudoin, grandson of the Quebec giant’s founder, told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Thursday that the board “respected its (contractual) obligations” to the former chief executive, that he said were comparable with policies at other publicly traded companies in Canada and the U.S.
The package Bellemare received when he stepped down in April could reach $17.5 million, including a minimum of $10 million in severance and nearly $2.7 million in share awards. He will rake in an additional $4.9 million if the sale of Bombardier’s rail unit to France’s Alstom SA goes through following regulatory scrutiny.
Bellemare’s five-year tenure saw the plane-and-train maker struggle to manage a debt that now stands at more than $9 billion as the company sold off division after division, leaving it a pure-play producer of private jets — a high-end luxury product in the middle of a recession.
Quebec pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement has criticized the compensation arrangement, calling it “excessive.”
At the virtual meeting Thursday, new CEO Eric Martel told investors that developments under his predecessor’s watch were “unacceptable” as “repeated program delays and technical challenges tarnished” Bombardier’s reputation.