Norway’s government minister in charge of business and trade, Monica Mæland, says she and her colleagues are evaluating new rules to limit the bonus and high executive salaries paid out in companies in which the state has a large stake. The rules follow public criticism over news of another round of large bonus payments made to the leaders of such state-owned Norwegian companies.
The chief executives of Statoil and DNB, Norway’s largest bank, hit the headlines in recent weeks over their own lucrative compensation packages. While relatively modest by international standards, their hefty bonus pay comes at a time when executives otherwise are cutting costs and calling for moderate pay hikes for employees.
Mæland said during the most recent question hour in Parliament that her ministry’s upcoming report on the state’s ownership interests will include an examination of executive pay in state-owned companies. They include, in addition to Statoil and DNB, Telenor, Hydro, Yara, Kongsberg and several others.
Opposition politicians have criticized the high executive pay, even though the last left-center coalition government didn’t do anything to stop it, leaving pay issues up to the companies boards of directors. Now they question whether it’s an “ethical challenge” that executive pay has increased at twice the rate of ordinary income in Norway during the past 20 years.